“I Am Always Here,” said the Sun

The last few days have been cloudy and rainy, so when I went out this morning I was overjoyed to feel the warm rays of the sun pouring down. “Thank you for being here,” I muttered to myself. And the sun instantly replied, “I am always here.”

Astonished, I thought about it for a moment, realizing how true that is. It’s not that the sun isn’t always shining, high up in the sky, lighting up our whole planetary system. The problem is that something often gets between us and those precious rays. Clouds and storms, mist, just plain bad air, even fire. Think of California and Oregon where those terrible fires produced smoke so dense the countryside was practically as dark as night.

But I soon took the analogy inside. Each of us has an inner sun—the Quakers call it the Inner Light. And as Robert Browning so clearly stated:

There is an inmost center in us all,
where truth abides in fullness;….and, to know,
rather consists in opening out a way
whence the imprisoned splendor may escape,
than in effecting entry for a light
supposed to be without.

Let’s suppose that inner sun is always there. Perhaps we always knew in our hearts that it is shining, but forget about it when life’s demands take us over. At age four I wrote a poem my mother noted down (thank you, Mumsie!). Many years later, when I was going through a bad time in my marriage, she reminded me of it and I’ve often thought of it since. It goes like this:

Sometimes it is cold.
Sometimes it is hot.
Sometimes it is raining,
And sometimes it is not.

Ah, the innocent wisdom of the child! And that inner sun is clouded over again and again as we react to whatever is happening and what life demands of us, not to mention our firm ego positions and our incessant inner talk. Call it our inner weather. Nevertheless, I need to act in the world. So what to do about it?

What if I were to allow my inner weather to become a Weather Report? Think of it this way: the tides of my life, the ebb and flow of my emotional weather, can tell me how I am at any moment—happy or desperate, discouraged, outraged or quiet. Two hours ago I was tense and anxious. Now I am pensive and relaxed. What will I be next? Everything changes, so if I have a little patience my moods and attitudes will change too.

Aha! A Weather Report! That’s the point! To see, to take stock of my inner weather, just as I would with a glance out my window as I plan my day. Not to judge or complain, not to accuse or deny. Let my inner weather tell me how I am. Then (at least I can pray), my larger self will be able to check in and give advice on the best possible moves of the moment.  T.S. Eliot message in the Four Quartets comes to mind:

Fare forward, you who think that you are voyaging;
You are not those who saw the harbour
Receding, or those who will disembark.
Here between the hither and the farther shore
While time is withdrawn, consider the future
And the past with an equal mind

So now that I’m old enough to live gratefully with what I have, can I let some of the tension and anxiety about my inner weather go, and live with the knowledge I had when I was four? That would mean to accept life as I live it, the turbulent with the peaceful, the storms with the calm. Maybe the four-year-old who wrote the poem knew just what I need to know now. If I repeat it to myself often enough, maybe I’ll begin to take it to heart!

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