The first thing God created was light. I guess God wanted to be able to see what they were doing!
There is no way to underestimate the role of the sun! The order of creation is kind of interesting in this sense.
On the first day, God created light, separating it from darkness.
On the second day, God created sky, which was a space in the watery, muddy substance which they were working with.
On the third day, God created land – gathering that mud suspended in the water into one place, and God also created plants to grow on the earth.
But not until the fourth day did God create the sun, moon and stars.
The fifth day – fish and birds
The sixth day – living creatures and human beings.
We know from science that the sun is our source of light. The story we have of creation seems to say that God called that ambient light from throughout the universe and gathered it into bodies of light. Sort of like gathering the suspended mud into bodies of earth. The light was there before the sun was. Since this is poem language, we can’t make too much of that, but what strikes me is that light is so important that it is the activity of two days of creation. Earth and plants together only get one!
The big thing is light.
All life begins with light. Particularly the light of the sun. Without light there would not be life. Plants make food with light. We eat the food which is made by light.
Sunlight is also a form of healing therapy that dates back to the ancient Greeks. It was called heliosis, or heliotherapy.
I don’t know about you, but when I first feel the warmth and light of the sun on my skin on a warm spring day, I just want to soak it in. It doesn’t really have anything to do with getting a suntan. I just want to soak in the sun. It feels like it feeds me, heals me, opens me after a season of dark withdrawal. It is like God is again separating the light from the darkness inside me.
The sun is a healer. We live in a time when we are afraid of the sun. But don’t let that fear cause us forget that we need sun – moderate amounts – to create vitamin D and many other healing benefits.
Here are just a few examples:
• The sun’s light kills bad bacteria.
• Sunlight has a beneficial effect on skin disorders, such as psoriasis, acne, eczema and fungal infections.
• Sunlight lowers cholesterol.
• The sun’s rays lower blood pressure.
• Sunlight builds the immune system.
• Regular sunlight exposure increases the growth and height of children, especially babies.
• Sunlight can cure some forms of depression.
I wonder if that is why the sun stayed longer that day for Hezekiah – when it says the sun went backwards, it means it was burning hot for longer. Maybe Hezekiah’s healing was a gift of the sun, and he needed a longer and more intense bout of sun to drive the infection from his body. It wasn’t just a sign to prove something, but it was what his body needed. He was suffering from an infected boil, maybe an ancient form of MRSA, which is not only painful, but deadly.
They put a poultice of figs on it and he recovered. Figs are also known to have healing powers in ancient medicine. I read an article which essentially suggests that all healing powers of the plants we use to keep us healthy – it all comes from the Sun. Which, of course, it does. It is the light of the sun which gives life to the things which feed us and heal us.
When God made light first, it was no small thing. Please be safe in the sun! With the problems in our atmosphere, we are getting a little too much medicine at this time in the world’s life, and we all know how damaging overdosing can be. So be careful.
And at the same time, remember when you feel the sun on your skin, that is it giving you life – in that very moment creating vitamins, cleaning your blood and pumping you with oxygen.
St. Francis wrote of Brother Sun and Sister Moon. The ancients have talked about Mother Earth and Father Sun.
What a gift is light! The day of the longest light, the summer solstice is less than 3 weeks away and the long sun, lingers into the night for a couple of months yet. Let this long light be God’s blessing touch for you this season! God doesn’t give us wordy blessings very often, except through each other. But God gives us lots of blessing touches. And the sun’s rays are first among those. Father Sun. An image for God’s presence everywhere and always, giving life and healing and hope. Let it touch us and fill us with light enough to share!