It's about the sun:
Apologies in advance for the rambling nature of this post, for it was written as fast as possible to catch and keep a thought, which is hard, for it flits like a bird even in the net. I hope it does not, as the hot dehydrating sun of summer, make your head hurt.
A thought struck me, like a bolt from the blue, concerning the phrase "a bolt from the blue," as I was riding in a car on the way back from a trip today. The landscape outside was green and yellow, that dry sort of yellow which is of dead grass, and the green was the sparse green of trees solitary and distant, passing along the highway. In the distance, the mountains were blue. It all looked a bit like some African safari, minus animal life (save a few birds circling lazy above).
And I thought, as I looked at the dreadful blue sky in the silence of the car (my father was asleep, my mother quietly concentrating on driving, my brother was reading) that the blue of the sky was terribly large, and flat, and that nothing would ever happen in the sky, and the afternoon would stay forever in this place, and I was solitary in a desert without God.
I thought for a moment what it would be like to have no God; and I thought of the open spaces of the West, and the Sahara - places were God is an abstract, distant figure, giving little hope on present life. An impersonal God is next to no God, as we see in the "Enlightenment" deists… and I thought of how God is always close in company with other believers ("wherever two or three are gathered in my name etc.") even in the darkest of nights, a close room of friends is comfort. Nay, even in a cell, if it is close and dark like a cave or a womb, one is comforted, I thought. One does not think of God as distant, when the walls are not distant. One is close to oneself and to God in a small place. But in the open place, in the wilderness - one does not feel that God is close. Where there are sullen clouds, driving wind, lightning, the crashing of waves - then, there is power, and God rides upon the storm. If God seems angry, and nature seems to threaten you, then at least one feels God, or the face of God in nature, is near. And night makes things close, or else shows you the stars, countless myriads which "proclaim the Glory of God". But during the day, there is only the flat sky and the care-less sun, indifferent to your fate, loveless and hate-less, impersonal.
How does one cope with this thing, the sun in the blue afternoon? It is like the singularity which makes madness, a producer of mirages, madness of a cyclopian eye which stares at you. Apollo in the long afternoon of man, at the equinox of human wisdom, "when the sun is at its hight" - it is cruel, it is an atheist. Apollo in the afternoon is an atheist. The clear light of reason makes all things bare, even of life (though this is madness and not wisdom). Bacchus alone, in the mad, hot, passionate closeness of night, is madness. But Apollo without Bacchus, is also madness (a madness of of the singular soul, as opposed to the madness of a soul surrounded by devils).
Is there a hole in which we can find God in this wilderness? A tent to shade us? A TABERNACLE? A place where we can say, here is God, He is real, He is not indifferent, He hides us in the shadow of his wing, He is our Tower and our Refuge? In the blue sky, it seems as impossible as a lighning-bolt.
Then, it hit me like a Bolt from the Blue.
That is why God came to us in Bethlehem, in a close dark cave. This is a reason for the Passover in the upper room. This is the reason why his City has walls that separate it from the endless, aimless wilderness. He came in a place, a time - a busy, lively time, a time when Rome was full of life. But without God, this could become a dark sarcasm, the hight of Roman civilization eclipsed by that terrible Apollonian face of the noon-day sun.
When God died on the Cross, the sun was darkened in the middle of the day.
And this is also why God gave us family… "it is not good for man to be alone". Thanks to God, we have a church, we have fellow-men and women, friends, to keep us from knowing only ourselves. A summer's day under the sun with friends may be nostalgically wistful later on, but it is not terrible with aimless loneliness, when one has true friends.
But the most congenial of all is a mid-summer's night with friends… therefore night is perhaps still better in these days.
Soon though, we will have neither use for the sun, nor the moon, but out light will come from the Son where he sits in the New Jerusalem. And the angles will glow like suns, and Saints with burning fire, and the Woman clothed with the sun and with the moon at her feet as it says in revelation - who is the Virgin - will be there.
And of course the sun as is rises at dawn is welcome in our dark world, for it ends the night of demons (for Bacchus owns the night). "As the watchman waits for the morning, so my soul waits for the Lord" - here too the sun is God, not as Apollo is at noon, but kind and gentle, though still more strong and triumphant that the Eastern cults could ever hope for - their darkness is as strong and ugly as the light is bright, and so the Manichees shall never be rid of either the demons or themselves…
Yes, but during the terrible light of day, the cruel light and not the dark, Christ comes brighter and with a loud noise: for Christ came like a bolt from the blue, and the thunder was like the voice of God at the Jordan, and the choir of Angels before the shepherds, and like the Blazing Glory of the mount of transfiguration. Our light is not cruel Apollo's, whose arrows pierced the Achaians (for the raining bow of God is hung in peace).
Remember this as the sun tries to kill us, and even when the devils come at night… God came like a bolt from the blue, hoped but unhoped-for, expected yet impossible to expect.
Post Script: other related thoughts.
So the Japanese were wise to choose the rising sun, not that of noon…
Remember the DAWN Treader…
Louis the Sun King was certainly not a Christian, in an age where Apollo was a king soon to be enthroned in Notre-Dame…
And then there is the thing about the red sunset being like an apocalypse. For it is the end of the world, the natural follow-up of the high-tide of human edifice, and human or devilish reasoning alone will fall "through a great burning into darkness" as Tolkien says. Divine reason and human reason are both like suns, but human reason falls into night (the barbaric and beastly realm of Bacchus, into which those who rejected the "Enlightenment" Apollo fell, like Nietzsche and Freud, who said that we are ruled by unreason and no reason). Divine reason is not susceptible to this, if it is truly divine and infinite, unlike those of ancient Greece (Apollo). Remember the beastliness of those Greek deities in Hesiod and Homer? Scarce rectified by Virgil? Yet, Rome was civilized, as was later Greece, for they were wiser than their old Gods and made them as reasonable as men. But they came form old night and faceless idols, and to them they returned as Barbarians invaded Rome. That too, was called the "Dark Ages" - and yes, it was an eclipse of human reason (funny how it was Theology and Divine reason which suffered much less during this period, and saved human reason and western education with itself.)
Also, consider the Jewish day and the "Dark night of the soul" in the writings of the Christian mystics. The Jewish day began at sunset one or our days and ended the with the sunset of the next day. If we consider the noonday sun as human reason and the night as the absence of reason, and then Dawn as the Divine reason giving grace, then it al means more… for the Jews, the next day could not come, unless the striving of human reason ended and passed through darkness to await the light of God at dawn: the pattern of the mystic, who dies to themselves and guidance by their own lights, thus entering "the dark night of the soul" where they must learn to hope and depend upon God as their light and their reason (in more ways than one). Although I do not know much about mysticism or Jewish culture, I think this inherent mystic nature of the Jewish calendar, being God-given, would be disagreed upon by anyone who is actually knowledgeable upon these matters - unlike myself. It would be nice to reach by luck what wise men know from childhood teachings… :P