When is a sermon not a sermon? When it is a newspaper column. This is how you take a sermon, redux it to five hundred words, take religion out of it, and make the spirituality inherent in it implied rather than explicit. How’d I do?
What is a sunset without someone to share it with? So too, the sunrise.
Last Wednesday, Rabia and I began the morning with our usual walk to the lake. ”Walk” is a euphemism. I begrudgingly walk and wobble while she trots, sniffs, and wags. I sigh, harrumph, and shuffle waiting as she picks exactly the right spot to do her business. The one thing we do together is sit on “our” bench and look at the lake. Me because I am essentially a sedentary contemplator, and her because I rub her belly.
The sun was brilliant. It was already a giant ball of flame hovering what seemed inches above the water. It’s intensity was reflected in a ribbon of gold unrolled upon the relentless white shouldered waves, a stiff south wind pushing them to our end of the lake.
Sometimes when we are sitting there I pray. Sometimes I talk, Tevye-style, to the Creator-Of-All-That-Is, and let God know what I think should be done as if divinity was a power at my command. Other times, most of the time, I sit and invite the wind and waves, the sun and clouds, and even rain or snow to speak to me whatever words I need to hear.
But last Wednesday as I raised my head toward the rising sun, I could not look up. I was about to utter something out loud when the intensity of light refused me. Mind you, I had sunglasses on and still I could not raise my head from its Rabia level bow to speak toward the sun.
I had already decided to imaginatively use the sun as a surrogate for the Creator — to look toward the sun and offer my prayers. But the sun had another idea. ”Down, you fool,” our star might as well have grumbled. I could not look up. The sun was too much: too brilliant, too intense, too radiant for me to look at it. And that, of course, was perfect.
Let’s just get a little perspective here. In the Milky Way, on which our smallish galaxy of Sun and planets forms a little tail at the end, there are fifty other galaxies. The largest galaxy in the Milky Way is 14,000 light-years in diameter. Just that one big galaxy has ten billion stars in it. Ten BILLION suns! Back away from the Milky Way just a little to catch a view of the universe — our universe, which we laughingly used to think was the only universe — and we will see a hundred to two-hundred BILLION more galaxies!
Meanwhile, we think that because we know about cells and atoms and sub-atomic particles, and that we can split them to make bombs, that we are big and important. We think that because we know how to capture the power of sun, wind, and fire that we are full of wisdom. We think that because we can fly, dive, and sail; because we can vaccinate, paint, and build; that we are powerful. We are so mistaken. We are small: infinitesimal, vulnerable, and fragile in the presence of the universe.
But for me, the early morning sun reminded me that we need to stop sometimes, step back, and reach for the humility lens. Humility empowers us see ourselves and the life that is closer to us, so much more clearly too.
Kristin Hoover says
Beautifully written as always
Cam Miller says
Thanks Kristin, wonderful to know you’re reading it.
Nancy Irey-Sams says
Very nicely written. I vision you and I sitting on the bench. Our thoughts and dreams of life come to mind..To sit back and watch time go by is a gift. All of us go down to the earth. Thank you sun for watching. Love to you Cam, Nancy Sams
Cam Miller says
And I can envision that on Beaver Island with you and Jon! Thanks Nancy.
Love your perspective, insight, humility, subversiveness, religiousness and non-religiousness…thank you, Cam, please keep them coming!
Cam Miller says
Whoa! That’s a lot to take in and hold. Thank you, Susan. Means a great deal to hear that from you.