It has been some months since I last posted anything. Today I am feeling the need to explore something – really anything – that reminds me that there is good in this world. I know that there is, but day after day we are inundated with reports of our species’ ability to be selfish; our ability to hate. If one read the bulk of our news in isolation one would think this is all we are.
So I hauled out my hymnbook and started flipping through its familiar pages. These words, written by John Keble in 1827, jumped out at me.
Sun of my soul, thou Savior dear,
It is not night if thou are near.
Oh, may no earthborn cloud arise
To hide thee from thy servant’s eyes.
Abide with me from morn till eve,
For without thee I cannot live.
Abide with me when night is nigh,
For without thee I dare not die.
Watch by the sick, enrich the poor
With blessings from thy boundless store.
Be ev’ry mourner’s sleep tonight,
Like infants’ slumbers, pure and light.
Come near and bless us when we wake,
Ere through the world our way we take,
Till in the ocean of thy love
We lose ourselves in heav’n above.
I was initially drawn to the title of this hymn; the simple concept of there being a sun of my soul. Imagine if we as a whole group, were each able to find something that illuminated our souls? Something that shone upon rather than clouded our judgments; something that allowed us to bring light into this world rather than hatred. There are many things that do that. For some of us it is faith, for others it is creativity, relationships, curiosity, nature. For some it is all of these things. What scares me is that all of these things can also close our eyes and extinguish the sun. Our self-centred pursuit of faith, creativity, curiosity, money and things – power and authority – place us in dimly lit corridors that are narrow and crowded. Corridors that we start protecting as though everything outside their walls is a threat.
When I read these words, the ideas are broad. They may speak to a particular understanding of what this sun is, but they are not small and they are not selfish. Earthly clouds cannot block the sun – it is strong. That which is our goodness requires us to protect every mourner’s sleep, watch over the sick and enrich the poor. Blessings are boundless. There are oceans of love.
This is what sunlight does. It keeps us alive. It makes things grow. It is for everyone, not the few. So as I consider the hatred in this great big world, the selfishness and the pain, I look to the sky and see that beautiful light that I share with 7.5 billion others and understand that my soul needs to know that we are alive together. Our hatred does not define us. We are beautiful in our differences, in our creativity, in our faiths. We are one.