By FATHER JAMES S. BEHRENS, OCSO | Published February 5, 2016
There are people who awake early every morning to watch the rising of the sun. I am one of them. I have sat on a boardwalk bench on the Belmar, New Jersey, beach to see the sun make its slow journey, a daily voyage that brings the light of day. And I have found a quiet spot on the rear deck of an ocean liner to watch the sun rise on a far horizon.
In both places, handfuls of people watched near me. Some had cups of coffee, others were having the first smoke of the morning, others stood with their arms crossed, gazing or perhaps meditating on the splendor unfolding before their eyes, communicating something via the silent language of beauty and wonder that sunrises bring.
I know a man who tells me that God speaks to him through everything. For my friend, life has been an experience that has drawn him into discerning the many ways God speaks. It is a journey of ongoing discovery. The more you give of your heart, ears, eyes, touch and hungers to the search for who God is and how he speaks, my friend tells me that you will gradually realize that there is nothing that does not reveal something of the ways and life of God.
I remember one morning I watched the sun rise over the ocean. I found a chair on the deck and sat and waited. Soon there appeared a long streak of faint light that stretched low across the horizon. It gradually became brighter and the clouds soon took on hues of reds, oranges, reds and blues. And then the tip of the sun appeared, the first sighting of what would soon be a perfectly round ball of fire. Darker clouds moved across the sky, some of them gradually set aglow by the sun, while others seemed to hold on stubbornly to their darkness. And it was then that I pondered the co-mingling of God and human history, how with the Incarnation human life and divine life are no longer two, but one. And for a fleeting moment, it was as if I had an insight into the interplay of darkness and light that is history, history with all its ongoing joys and sorrows, failures and accomplishments, its cycles of life and death.
The light of the rising sun transforms all in its path. The view from the ship offered me a way of “seeing” how God is among us and within us. Just as the sun is faithful in its rising and the power to transform (and give light, heat, beauty) so God rises every day and is with us in all the light and dark moments of our lives, slowly turning it all into his likeness and image.
I cannot help but think that when I watched my fellow sunrise gazers, they seemed to look at the rising sun and its beauty with a sense of hope and a kind of learning and waiting. As I watch them slowly sipping their coffees and taking slow drags on their cigarettes, I wonder if it can be said that they all somehow know that the big rising is yet to come, when God will rise from the depths of history and spread the fullness of his beauty all over the earth, taking all the darkness to his heart and turning into light.
Something worth waiting for.