Have you ever seen crepuscular rays—those beautiful rays that radiate out from the sun at dawn and dusk? Sometimes, they’re called “Jacob’s Ladder.” My daughters call them the “heaven effect,” and indeed, one morning, God comforted me through this very image.
But first, a word about a sun metaphor. Malachi promises that “the Sun of righteousness arise[s] with healing in his wings” (4:2). To me, this illustrates how God’s children are related to God and to each other. Since we are joined with divine Soul, as rays are joined to the sun, we can really know each other only by looking to our common source. Science and Health explains, “The universe reflects and expresses the divine substance or Mind; therefore God is seen only in the spiritual universe and spiritual man, as the sun is seen in the ray of light which goes out from it” (p. 300). Mary Baker Eddy also wrote, “If we say that the sun stands for God, then all his rays collectively stand for Christ, and each separate ray for men and women” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 344).
God sends angels, His messages (the word angel comes from the Greek angelos, meaning “messenger”), in delightfully diverse forms. And so, one morning when the sun had just begun to peek through the trees, I received the exact message I needed. Here’s how it happened.
Years ago, I had a beautiful and talented young friend whose life was full of earthly promise. She was second runner-up for Miss Virginia, and was known as the best young operatic voice in the state. She loved children and delighted them with Donald Duck imitations and other voices.
While driving through western Virginia one morning, I heard of her passing on the radio. As I drove down the forest road, I felt an overwhelming sense of tragic loss and emptiness. As tears made seeing difficult, I stopped on the roadside and prayed for understanding.
One morning when the sun had just begun to peek through the trees, I received the exact message I needed.
Divine Love’s angel message directed my gaze to the streams of sunlight penetrating the misty morning woods. My appreciation of astronomy, and my affection for the forest’s beauty, caused me to ponder deeply what I was seeing. As this precious “astronomy angel” persisted, a question stirred my thought: What is the source of these luminous rays? It’s the sun, of course. The beams that grace this dark and dewy green forest are shining out from the sun.
Another question: Where were these rays a few minutes ago? Since it was dawn, I knew the earth must just be turning into them. Moreover, since the earth is moving briskly along its orbit, these rays were shining out into deep space minutes ago (before the earth moved into their path), and after the earth has moved past the rays, they will be shining far out into space again. They fall on the earth for a few minutes, and that’s only if they hit the center of the earth. If a ray glances off the top of the earth, it may be earthbound for only a few seconds.
The message grew clearer. All the beauty and grace and music, and even the Donald Duck voice that induced kids’ giggles, were, in divine Science, grounded in qualities shining out from God, infinite Soul. These qualities, and the exact representation of them that I knew as that young woman, had always been shining out from Father-Mother Love, and always would. Not only are those qualities always expressed, but they are always seen, appreciated, and loved; they always delight others because man is both the manifestation and object of God’s affection. And my friend’s spiritual identity, the substance of her being, would always be safe in God. Again from Science and Health, “Continuing our definition of man, let us remember that harmonious and immortal man has existed forever, and is always beyond and above the mortal illusion of any life, substance, and intelligence as existent in matter” (p. 302).
Only the earthbound blinders of material sense would suggest that we start one moment in time and end in another. That was never God’s view, any more than limited earthfall is the sun’s view of one of its rays. In a paragraph with the marginal heading, “The divine loveliness,” Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health: “Being possesses its qualities before they are perceived humanly. Beauty is a thing of life, which dwells forever in the eternal Mind and reflects the charms of His goodness in expression, form, outline, and color” (p. 247).
Soon, I felt a nearness and dearness of God’s specific love for me and for my friend. I felt lifted and warmed and satisfied, basking in the transparent and unquenchable light of Life. What a generous and glorious answer God sent to my questing prayer. And how thoughtful Father-Mother Love was to send this angel to me!
The insights gained that morning have been a beacon through the years, and clothe “light” metaphors, like the following, with a tender immediacy.
“Love, redolent with unselfishness, bathes all in beauty and light. . . . The sunlight glints from the church-dome, glances into the prison-cell, glides into the sick-chamber, brightens the flower, beautifies the landscape, blesses the earth. Man, made in His likeness, possesses and reflects God’s dominion over all the earth. Man and woman as coexistent and eternal with God forever reflect, in glorified quality, the infinite Father-Mother God” (Science and Health, p. 516).
Dr. Tom Fuller teaches math and computer science at Principia College and gets outside as often as he can.
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