We are in the car. The gritty not quite awake feeling still in my eyes and my mouth. Driving a familiar route, the route that speaks the beginning of pretty much every family vacation of my childhood. The route of beaches, and sunshine and weeks of relaxation. This morning the excitement is tinged with a bit of anxiety. My mother and her cousins will be running a triathlon. My sister and I are going to cheer them on but we can’t help but be nervous about the outcome. As we drive, we talk. Despite the fact that we see each other three times a week- frequently we are surrounded by children and friends and husbands. Here, in the holy safeness of this car we talk as only people who have known each other for ages can talk. Assuming our perspectives on things coincide. Knowing that despite misusing a word, or declaring something a little to loudly, our essence will be understood by one another. Madeline L’Engle uses the Greek word ouasia to describe the being of a person. The existence beyond and behind your personality. Everyone in the world gets glimpses of who you are but your oausia is your inherent essence. I feel like here in this space my oausia is allowed to breathe- to be understood, I don’t need to pause to make sure what I’m saying will be taken the way I mean it, this holy presence of my sister fits me with the comfort of a worn sweater or an old pair of jeans.
And so we drive and talk and don’t stop for coffee or breakfast anticipating that we might miss the beginning of the race. And then we reach Sandy Hook Park. The sand stretching huge lengths to the sea and at the horizon the sun is rising. The clean feeling of early morning salt air. The chill breeze making me forget I slept only four hours last night. It is morning! It doesn’t matter that the sun hasn’t crossed the horizon or that the light outside is still dim and hazy. The reality of morning is there- present in the watercolor splashes along the ocean horizon. And for one second, one brilliant mysterious flash I glimpse the ouisa of living out Christianity. We are those living in the reality of the horizon. The work is done. It is morning and yet the reality that should come about if it is morning is not yet here. I have a feeling I may spend the rest of my life figuring out what it looks like to be a child of the sunrise. We live in the tension of a promise fulfilled but not yet realized. We are meant to live oriented towards the horizon.
photo credit: Liz Sacchi don’t you wish your cousin was as talented as mine?
I heard once that the ancient Romans considered Christians atheists because they had no temples, made no sacrifices, worshiped no tangible gods. I don’t know if that’s true but I loved that. I loved that at the dawn of Christianity there were no rules, no thresholds to cross, no expectations. They lived oriented towards the return of their Christ. I think maybe now we’ve gotten caught up in defining what the sun will look like when it rises or deciding what exactly we should be doing or saying every time we glance at the horizon. What would it look like if we stopped talking about theories about the sun and just tried to live by its light? What if we lived our lives facing East? What if we lived like the reality we have not yet realized was present now?