Let the Sun Do Its Work

Spring has finally come to Connecticut, which means a beautiful light through the trees and everyone gathering outside – fixing up the yard, starting the garden, or walking at the beach.  Remember that sunny day I told you about – the one that finally comes – when you know you can leave the fleece behind for good?  The one we earned with every miserably cold morning and every slip on the ice?  That day has arrived!

It’s that time of year when the sun block comes out and reclaims its spot near the back door.  But it usually takes a surprise or two before I take the sun block seriously.  On Sunday, after just an hour or two at the beach, my sons' faces were a shade or two darker, and my own arms had lost the “winter white.”  The sun had done its work without me realizing what was happening. 

The sun works on us with a silent, gradual, transforming power.  If I go to the beach and stare at my skin, I don’t see a change taking place.  It’s only later that evening when I look in the mirror that I see the change – the warm glow of color restored, the abiding result of happy times spent in warmth and light.

Below is a brief excerpt from Fr. Murray Bodo’s Landscape of Prayer.   Fr. Bodo shares a charming account of a fellow Franciscan who taught folks to pray before the Blessed Sacrament.  He wanted them to stop trying so hard.  He wanted them to stop stressing about “what to do.”  He wanted them to enjoy their time in this Eucharistic Presence in the same natural way that I enjoyed the warm sun at the beach with my kids.  He wanted them to “let the sun do its work.”  And then later – as they went about their lives or glanced in the mirror – later they might discover that they had been changed by this silent, transforming power:

Brother Carlo used to expose the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance and ask those who would learn to pray to sit in silence for two hours before the Blessed Sacrament. Usually they were, to say the least, nonplussed. And he would then explain, ‘Imagine you are lying on the beach, thinking of nothing in particular, just letting the sun’s rays work gradually on your skin, a beautiful tan emerging day by day. The host in the monstrance is the sun. Just be in its presence, not worrying about so-called distractions or whether or not you are concentrating on the ‘sun.’ A change gradually takes place in you the way a suntan emerges on the skin. Relax, let the ‘sun’ do its work. Your work is to be there.’
— Fr. Murray Bodo, OFM, Landscape of Prayer, St. Anthony Messenger Press