“The Saviour of the world will rise like the sun; and he will come down into the womb of the Virgin like rain gently falling on the earth.” - Antiphon from Morning Prayer, December 19, 2020.
The reality of Jesus Christ has been written into our very existence. We experience Him and His Life, not just when we read the Gospels, but also through symbols found throughout Creation and our own life experience.
and the firmament
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world. (Psalm 19:1-4)”
These verses poetically explain how the world we live in is much more than a space to exist in, it’s also a place to soak in God’s teaching of our Salvation. If we are taught how to perceive the world correctly, we can come to know God better simply by living in it.
As the Psalm above tells us, we can truly come to know of God’s glory by simply gazing up at the sky with its changing colors and variety of lights that seem to appear and disappear. Every day and every night, without a sound the Gospel is preached to us as the sun seems to “die” in an explosion of light, only to “rise” again after a waiting period to shine on us the truth of Christ’s Resurrection. The Sun itself is a constant source of energy and warmth, giving life and light to the earth and all who live on it. It’s so powerful that many pre-Christian peoples worshipped it as a god itself, missing the symbolism that it was meant to portray as merely a sign of the one true God.
Every Fall is another Passion of Jesus, and every Spring a Resurrection. Once you realize this, its’s hard not to see it. God has injected His teaching into our day to day experiences.
The prolific writer, G.K. Chesterton, once made the astute observation that everyone who goes to sleep believes in God. He was stating that it requires a lot of faith for one to close one’s eyes and drift off to sleep with the expectancy of waking up. He even called sleep a sacrament, or a sign of the divine, as he realized that falling asleep and waking up is an activity that directly points us to the reality of Christ’s Death and Resurrection.
Therefore, every time we sleep, we are experiencing the reality of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection. We do the same as we witness the changing of day to night and then the return of the day. The yearly changes of the seasons further promise the Gospel message silently as we go on in our day to day existence.
What is even more interesting is that these realities and experiences were occurring long before Jesus walked on the earth. They existed almost like a preprogramming that prepared humanity for the Gospel. This is much different from the Jews being told of a coming Messiah through the Prophets. While that is good and necessary for humanity to grasp the reality of Salvation and Christ’s role in it, living day to day life while being drenched in these Theological realities is even more important.
We have a deeper understanding of the term “resurrection” after witnessing the sun “die” and “come back to life” every day. Even after coming to know the reality of the earth’s orbit around the Sun, the experience of its “death” is still there. So too with our sleep, while we are obviously not dying when we drift off to sleep, we still in a deep way experience a little death. And then when we awake, we arise to a newness that cannot be understood by words, it must be experienced. This experience then silently screams the truth of Christ’s resurrection and points us to our future resurrection after we really die.
This all makes me think of the “boiling a frog” teaching I learned in college. The teaching says evil can increase incrementally in a society without the public realizing because the evil increases more like water being heated slowly to eventually boil a frog in the pot. The idea being if the frog was put directly into hot water, it would hop right out, but if placed in lukewarm water slowly heated to boiling, it wouldn’t be able to as easily.
Obviously, God is not slowly increasing the evil in our lives. However, could He be conditioning humans from our birth to unconsciously understand the event of Christ’s Resurrection, and our own future resurrection, by our experience of sunrises, springs, and even regaining health after a terrible illness. Then, once we are told of the Gospel story, we can grasp it with a deeper comprehension than if we did not have these experiences.
There are many more realities and experiences in life that are living allegories of religious concepts like the ones we already discussed. By reflecting on them and making connections between our life experiences and our faith, we grow in depth in our understanding of our faith. Furthermore, we can grow in our relationship of God as we begin to see more how everything leads us to Him.
This growth comes from us simply being reminded of God. The more we think of Him, the more aware we are of His presence in our lives and His love for us. We can work then to uncover more symbols and realities found in our lives that point us to heavenly realities. I don’t think this would be us forcing our own concepts into our perception of the world, but truly we would be discovering the truths that God Himself placed exactly for this purpose. He wants us to know Him and His love for us more deeply.