• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Journal of Sun

Air Date: Week of

stream/download this segment as an MP3 file

Commentator Tom Montgomery-Fate considers the cycles of the sun as he watches the days lengthen and waits for winter to melt into spring.


CURWOOD: During these short, dark days in the deep freeze of winter, the transforming light and heat of the sun, and the promise of spring, can be difficult to imagine. Commentator Tom Montgomery-Fate looks ahead as he considers the sun's perpetual work of creation.

MONTGOMERY-FATE: As a kid I once watched a few bands of orange and red light meld and seep into an Iowa cornfield at dusk. As the glowing colors softened into night, the woods in the distance turned briefly to a silhouette, and then disappeared in the darkness. Sunlight is but an ordinary miracle.

If we seek evidence of the sacred, we need only pay attention to the world we are walking through. This year I'm keeping a journal of the slow wheel of the sun. In the fall, the days shorten, things dry out, fall apart, blow away. I watch the Queen Anne's lace on the prairie behind the farmhouse close into the tiny green bowls my daughters like to pretend are miniature bird nests, or chic earthy hats for their Barbies. The goldenrod withered, stiffened, and finally stopped waving at the robins. The leaves changed. The brown, brittle veined hearts scattered in the wind and settled somewhere to decay, the continuity of life and death made visible.

Today I'm dreaming of that cycle of light, of life, of those moments of transition, of winter melting into spring, of the April sun filtering through the barren trees and finding the dormant flowers lining the oxbow beyond the prairie, the blood wort, trillium, and Solomon seal. Soon the sun will awaken and raise them, ending their long crouch in the muddy weeds and shadow.

Writer Houston Smith once suggested sunlight embodies the inherent link between science and spirit. Light creates, he says, it pumps power into the spatio-temporal world. The immaterial light flowing from the sun is transformed into the earth's green carpet of vegetation. Because photons of light are situated on the cusp of the material and immaterial, they are not subject to our usual ways of understanding the universe.

That makes sense to me. I'm not sure why anyone would want to understand the universe in the usual way, to compartmentalize and measure to try and prove it exists. I would rather belong to it, awake, aware, connected to the light, water, air and heat that created me, that creates all life. Many cultures have worshipped and sung to the sun since ancient times, marveling at the great pumping heart of creation. It reminds us all year-round that we live on the cusp of the material and immaterial, of the sacred and the ordinary, and that what separates the two is more like a membrane than a hard line.

CURWOOD: Tom Montgomery-Fate teaches writing at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. He's the author of Beyond the White Noise, a book of essays about living in the Philippines.



Buy Tom Montgomery-Fate’s book “Beyond the White Noise: Mission in a Multicultural World”


Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

P.O. Box 990007
Prudential Station
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Telephone: 1-617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Energy Foundation: Serving the public interest by helping to build a strong, clean energy economy.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth