A church I once frequented used to give me one of the best spiritual moments of the year by timing the Easter vigil so accurately before daybreak that the sun poured in exactly as the bells rung, the veils were pulled off the crosses and statues, and the first Gloria in Excelsis of the new season was sung.
It’s no mere pagan hangover that churches are traditionally oriented, in the proper sense of the word, towards the East. We rely on the sun for the heat that gives us growth and life, and the light that lets us see. God is like this, the source of both existence and intelligibility, as the one who creates the world and gives it rational order.
Of course, if you were able to fly to the sun, you would be burnt to nothing before you even got close; and if you stare at the sun, you will lose your sight. This is also true of God. Moses had to enter the cloud around God and only see his surrounds. He needed a veil even to glance at God obliquely. S John the Evangelist insists that no one can see God and live. His ways are higher than our ways, and in his innermost essence, he as inaccessible to our minds as he is to our bodies.
His ways are higher than our ways, not in the way that our ways are higher than a chimpanzee’s or an ant’s, that is, different as matter of degree. They can in some limited way do many of the things that we can, and evolution tends towards greater intelligence over time. Rather, our difference from God is absolute. In many ways we are closer to an ant than we are to God. One might even say that it is our shared absolute difference from God that puts us in what moderns might call radical “solidarity” with everything else in creation, though I prefer St Francis’ word: brotherhood. The things of this world are more than colleagues or comrades. Rather, the animals, plants and even inanimate things of this universe are our sisters and brothers, under the paternity of God, and we humans are ordained to love and care for them as such.