Admittedly I am in the fourth day of a silent retreat, and admittedly I am speaking (albeit to a mute interlocutor). We begin the day with lauds and Mass in a chapel whose eastern wall is entirely glass. We can see pines and oaks, gamboling harts, wild turkeys, and backlit mists rising from fields over which the sun himself rises. By God’s grace, on the first two mornings a chapel seat fell to me from which I could see the sun rise. A faint purple, then a reddish glow deepening to orange, heralded his coming. Finally the Brother Sun himself cleared the ridge, pouring liquid light as of molten gold into the chapel. God had given us another day to praise Him.
But this morning I ended up in a different seat from which I would not be able to see the sun rise. A thick and dour pine blocked my view of the horizon. I struggled a bit: maybe I could see the sunrise by shifting a little. Maybe God does not want me to see the sunrise today. Could I, even gratefully, offer this little disappointment to Him, a pleasing sacrifice? After a little wrestling match, I actually managed to offer up my bit of disappointment with joy. But then … the magnificent sun burst through the thick dark branches of that spreading pine, and I beheld his glory. He smiled upon me, filling that spot in the chapel in which I sat with golden light.
It’s a small thing, like every sacramental. It lasted just a moment, and if filled just a small space, and it was unnoticed by most. But my personal sunrise this morning was a sign. It was a sacrament, a foretaste, of heaven, where all our joy will be complete. Tomorrow I may not see the sun rise, but I will know that He is there. He smiled upon me this morning. He laughed and he played with me: “here I am, just behind the pine branch. Now you see me, now you don’t. But someday, if you don’t lose hope, you will see me face-to-face, forever. Don’t give up.”