Waiting for the Sun to Rise

This New Year’s Day, I was in the mood for a little adventure. I was visiting with my parents in New Hampshire and I decided that watching the sun rise from the old fire tower on Hyland Hill would be a fitting way to greet the new year. 

It was a brisk 10* Fahrenheit when I set out at 6:15 toward the trail with my parents’ dog, Dozer, and my Dad’s cell phone (safety precautions against bears and such). It was also very dark, but I had the foresight to bring a small flashlight. That was the only foresight I had. It had been at least a year since I’d hiked this trail, and I had probably only done it three or four times altogether. Only when I got to the first crossroads did I remember that a whole network of trails crisscross through the hilly woods in my parents’ “neighborhood”.  But I just followed my gut and trusted that all would turn out well in the end.

One bruised hip (there was ice on the trail!), many misgivings, and a few moments of questioning the sanity of my venture later, I arrived at the tower, ready for the sunrise. By this time, it was quite light out, so I assumed that the minute I reached the top “flight” of the tower, the sun would obligingly peek out from behind Mount Monadnock. I climbed up to the top, wound up with excitement and adrenaline. I took a few pictures of the clear dawn with my Dad’s phone, marveling at the beauty all around me.

But the sun did not appear.

I paced a little and swung my arms, trying not to think about the sweat that was now freezing all over me. I called down to Dozer, who happily waved his tail back. I tried to think about what time the sun had actually risen earlier in the week.

Still, the sun did not appear.

I hopped up and down, burrowing further in my coat and I began to wonder – will the sun ever rise? What if there’s something freaky going on and it takes another hour? This has been a really nice experience already – surely I won’t miss much if I leave now.  After all, how much more beautiful can this panorama get? What difference will the sun make, really?

Into all these doubts and questions, a firm resolve was forming in my gut. “You will not leave until you see the sun rise,” it said. “This is the whole point of the trip.” Suddenly, as I listened to this (very calm) voice instead of the frantic ones I had been entertaining, my body and my heart became very still. I planted myself facing east and waited for the sun.

Contrary to my suspicions, the sun did rise in just a few minutes – and it was more glorious than I could have thought. Now, I have seen the sun rise before, but it was just so clear, so brilliant, and so obviously remote from all the rest of the world I was looking at that it really blew me away. 

I was taken aback, thinking that I had nearly left just a few minutes before. What had made me think of that? Yes, the view had been lovely before the sun came, but now it was totally sidelined by the transcendent beauty of the rising sun, whose golden light transformed everything it touched.

I think that something similar can happen to all of us in our walk with the Lord. So much of it is spent in darkness, isn’t it? It can be hard to hold out for Christ alone when there are so many good and beautiful things all around us in the world. But what my early-morning adventure reminded me of is this: it is worth waiting for Christ, just as it is worth waiting for the sun to rise. It is worth bearing discomfort for Him. It is worth feeling like a fool. It is worth the uneasy questions that will come and pester us, tempting us to descend the mountain and give up. He is worth everything, in fact. So let us spend this new year with our faces set to the east, awaiting the Rising Sun who is the true Light of the world.

- Sr. Agnes Thérèse Davis, T.O.R.

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