For most of my life, sunshine has been something I’ve tried to actively avoid. Growing up in Tennessee and southern California, the sun was always a ball of solar fire searing at my eyes, my skin, my peace of mind. It caused me to prickle, to sweat, to hate how I inhabited my body, to despise summer as the worst of all seasons. Living in places where the edge never quite softened, even in winter (especially in SoCal as climate change has caused intense heat year-round), my physical revulsion to sunlight meant I found myself at odds with it spiritually as well.
And then I was called to serve our congregation in Winnipeg, where the relief of the chill comes in October and stays until May. And, it so happens, we also have one of the highest percentages of sunny days on the continent.
When we first moved here, I thought the confluence of sunlight and cold would be the perfect compromise for myself, the one who hated the sun, and my partner, who loves it. It never occurred to me that simply changing my location in relation to the earth’s path around the sun would fundamentally change my relationship to it as well.
I still love cloudy, overcast days, especially when they come with snow. But, as I come to the end of my first winter in Winnipeg, I also find myself, for what feels like the first time of my entire life, basking in the sunlight at every chance. Whereas I used to always choose the shady side of the street, now I seek the sunny side. Each Sunday, as I stand outside our congregation to greet folks joining us for worship, I turn my face up to the sun and give thanks for the warmth and light that helps me welcome all who come into our midst.
Summer is coming
I know. I used to dread it, to count down the remaining days of spring with a sense of horror as this season of what amounted to near-constant suffering for me drew near. This year, however, summer is approaching as a mystery. I have found so much healing from the winter sun, that I can only move towards the summer sun with my arms open, wondering what this season will bring.
I wanted to share this with you because it came about from a shift in location, which can be metaphorical as often as physical. Sometimes, something in our life that is preventing us being our whole selves can be integrated, can be healed, if we are willing to shift ourselves into a new place, a new perspective, a new location in the larger system we inhabit.