This time of year it is possible to watch the sun rise without losing any sleep. Even though I am usually out of bed before the sun, in my morning routine, from my urban/suburban living room, though, I do not take the time just to sit and watch the sky brighten over the trees and the neighbors' houses to east. With the lengthening days, I am usually out of work and headed west as the sun is setting, but I don't really notice that either except for the solar glare as a driving hazard.
Author Paula Huston writes of her experience of sitting in solitude at sunrise and sunset, "I began to get a sense, which I hadn't had in years, of being part of all this: the sun's rising and its setting, the day's beginning and ending cupped in two palms far larger than my own. (The Holy Way, p.18)
Psalm 19: 1-6
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the sky proclaims its builder's craft. (New American Bible)
One day tells its tale to another,
and one night imparts knowledge to another.
Although they have no words or language,
and their voices are not heard,
their sound has gone out into all lands,
and their message to the ends of the world.
In the deep has God set a pavilion for the sun;
it comes forth like a bridegroom out of his chamber;
it rejoices like a champion to run its course.
It goes forth from the uttermost edge of the heavens
and runs about to the end of it again;
nothing is hidden from its burning heat.
She continues after quoting Psalm 19, "I asked myself how I had so entirely lost this knowledge for so many years. How had I lost my membership in the great creation? (The Holy Way, p. 19)
Could we try this at least as a weekend practice during Lent? What if we allow ourselves fifteen minutes to read and meditate on this or another Psalm, and sit in solitude with the sun as company?
As I write this, I'm "on retreat." I am sitting in the afternoon sunshine, snug inside on a windy winter day. The wind has blown away the morning's clouds, and the sun is warming me in a way that the electric heat could not. I can see ocean's edge across the dunes—the sun's track is silver white now across the water, running its course toward the western edge. Even this, just sitting in the sun and absorbing its heat—something I loved as a small child when the afternoon sun warmed my bed and let me succumb to an afternoon nap, even if I didn't want it—I seem to have forgotten how just to let myself hear the message that one day tells another, and bathe in the warmth of creation. I think I can stop writing now and just sit in the sun and listen to the firmament declaring the glory of God.