As we approach the shortest day of the year, it seems only appropriate to reflect on the magnificent gift we call the sun…
The sun is big. VERY big. If it were hollow, it would hold one million earths!
In the past, people thought the sun revolved around the earth. It sure looks like that. The sun comes up every day in the east, traverses the sky through the day, and goes down in the west. Today, of course, we know better. The earth revolves around the sun—in more ways than one.
The sun is a gigantic nuclear furnace. Each second, it transforms four million tons of itself into light. This means each second a huge section of the sun vanishes into radiant energy in all directions. In his beautiful book, The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos, Brian Swimme, a mathematical cosmologist, says, “In our own experience we have perhaps watched candles burn down or have seen wood consumed by flames leaving only ashes, but nothing in our human experience compares to this preternatural blaze that engulfs oceans of matter each day.”
The sun is a cosmological example of sacrifice. The sun “sacrifices” itself to become energy—energy that sustains all living things on earth. The sun’s energy through photosynthesis is changed into plants that are consumed by animals. Since we, the “human animal,” first appeared on earth, we have been “feasting on the sun’s energy” stored in maize, wheat, peanuts, blackberries, reindeer, cattle, chickens, salmon, etc. Says Swimme, “each day the sun dies as sun and is reborn in the vitality of the earth.” He adds, “Every child needs to learn this simple truth: she is the energy of the Sun.” And every adult must never forget this simple truth.
We humans imitate the sun every time we pour out our energy so that others may live. This happens daily in countless large and small ways: we marry, we have a child, we cook supper, we go to work, we visit someone in a nursing home, with laugh with a friend, we walk the dog, we nurse the sick, we teach a child to read, we visit the imprisoned, we clean the house, we recycle, we comfort one who mourns, we donate food to the food bank, we keep vigil with the dying, we pray for peace. Using the energy we receive from the sun, we pour out our creative energies that enable others to reach fulfillment. We convert the energy of the sun into love.
Human existence is possible only because of the sun. Human love is possible only because (in the words of Swimme) at the heart of our solar system a “magnificent stellar generosity pours forth free energy day and night without stop and without complaint and without the slightest hesitation. This is the way of the universe. This is the way of life.” And this is the way of love.
How are you translating the sacrificial energy of the sun into sacrificial acts of love?