Totally Eclipsed


I don’t have a quote or a photo to offer for the eclipse, but did find this 4-5th Century Christian hymn which references the sun:

Blessed Light of the Trinity,

Originating Unity,

Now as the fiery sun declines

Pour radiance in our hearts.


In morning songs we offered praise,

At evening we implore you.

To you, our glory,

Through every age,

May this suppliant offer praise.”



The Sun as Servant and Symbol

“… the sun knows its time for setting.”

(Psalm 104:19)

“Arise O sons of the Sun of God! Arise, the merciful sun has risen and has begun to pour its light lavishly over the dark fields of the earth. It has risen to set you free from sleep’s gloom and terror.

Your sins of yesterday are not written out on the sun. The sun does not remember or seek revenge for anything. On its face there are no wrinkles from your forehead, nor is there any sadness, envy, or sorrow. Its joy lie in giving, its youth-its rejuvenation- lies in serving.

Blessed are those who serve, for they shall not grow old. What if the sun were to imitate you, my neighbors? How little light it would shed on earth you misers! How bloody its light would be, you murderers! How green it would become with envy when it saw greater suns that itself, you envious people! How red with wrath it would become when it heard the profanities below, you short-tempered people! How yellow it would become with yearning for the beauty of the stars, you greedy people! How pale it would become with fear, if no one marked its way, you cowards! How dark it would become with worry, you worrisome worriers! How wrinkled and old it would become living on yesterday’s wrongdoing, you vengeful people! How astray it would go from the right way if it fought over rights, you auctioneers of rights! How cold and dead it would become, and how it would envelop the entire universe with its death, you preachers of death!

Oh how fortunate it is for the world that the sun will never imitate you, O sons and daughters of earth! Indeed, the sun does not know many things as you do, but it does know two things eternally: that it is a servant and a symbol. It knows that it is a symbol of the One who put it at His service.” (Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich, PRAYERS BY THE LAKE, pp 28-29)

Images of Energy

Almost all the energy on our planet is related in one form or another from our local star, the Sun.   So it seems appropriate to occasionally capture an image of the sun and images of energy on earth.   Above the sun is framed between the two transmission towers.  The wires carry the power of the sun converted to our use.  The sun is no god, for we can make it serve our purposes.

A coal barge carries sunpower converted to carbon through the many millions of years of earth’s history.    The sun’s reflection parallels and illumes its older energy now hardened into coal.     The earth stores the sun’s power for us.

We can appreciate  apricity – the warmth of the winter sun, not only as it burns brightly in the February sky, but when the coal is burned as well.    (see also my blog Appreciating Apricity).    The sun’s energy becomes converted to material substance, in one of many mysteries and miracles of our solar system.

We do appreciate apricity especially as we feel the effect of  a Siberian plume merging with a polar vortex.   Despite the sunshine, we still experience record cold temperatures.

As we wend our way through cloudy days
Of sunless cold and winter’s greys,
Siberian plume’s fearful bite,
Apricity scatters the heart’s malaise
Birthing the hope for spring: a seasonable delight.

The Beauty of Light

And God said, ‘Let there be light.’  The first word of God created the nature of light, did away with the darkness, put an end to the gloom, brightened up the world, and bestowed upon all things in general a beautiful and pleasant appearance.

The heavens, so long buried in darkness, appeared, and their beauty was such as even yet our eyes bear witness to. The air was illuminated, or rather, it held the whole light completely permeating it, sending out dazzling rays in every direction to its uttermost bounds.

It reached upward even to the ether itself and the heavens, and in extent it illuminated in a swift moment of time all parts of the world, north and south and east and west. For, such is the nature of ether, so rare and transparent, that the light passing through it needs no interval of time. …

And the air is more pleasant after the light, and the waters brighter, since they not only admit but also return the brightness from themselves by the reflection of the light, the sparkling rays rebounding from all parts of the water. The divine word transformed all things into a most pleasing and excellent state. …

The Creator of all things, by His word instantly put the gracious gift of light in the world. …  ‘Let there be light.’  In truth, the command was itself the act, and a condition of nature was produced than which is not possible for human reasoning’s to conceive anything more delightfully enjoyable. …

But, if beauty in the body has its being from the symmetry of its parts with each other and from the appearance of beautiful color, how, in the case of light, which is simple in nature and similar in parts, is the idea of beauty preserved? Or, is it that the symmetry of light is not evinced in its individual parts but in the joy and pleasure at the visual impression?

In this way even gold is beautiful, which holds an attraction and pleasure for the sight, not from the symmetry of its parts, but from the beauty of its color alone. And the evening star is the most beautiful of the stars, not because the parts of which it was formed are proportionate, but because from it there falls upon our eyes a certain joyous and delightful brightness.

Then, too, the judgment of God concerning the goodness of light has been made, and He looks not wholly at the pleasure in the sight but also looks forward to the future advantage.

For, there were not yet eyes able to discern the beauty in light. ‘And God separated the light from the darkness.’ That is, God made their natures incapable of mixing and in opposition, one to the other. For, He divided and separated them with a very great distinction between them. …

The condition in the world before the creation of light was not night, but darkness.”   (Saint Basil, Exegetic Homilies, pp 31-33)


You can find links to all of my photos at Fr. Ted’s Photo Albums.   You can find links to other photoblogs I’ve posted at Fr. Ted’s Photoblogs.

Appreciating Apricity

I learned today two new, related words.   They are wonderfully joyous and beautiful and I don’t ever remember hearing them or reading about them before today.

The first (what for me  personally is a neologism ) is apricity, which I learned is a term used for “the warmth of sun in winter.”   (I liked that definition better than the simple “warmth of the sun”).   I never new there was a word for that most wonderful event of feeling the warm sun on a winter day.


The second word, related to the first which I also thought was such a warm and wonderful term is apricate – to bask in the sun.  I had never heard this sunbathing term before but fell in love with the word.  Any day that one can apricate is a good day!

The Sun as Symbol of the Good

“What praise is not demanded by the blaze of the sun?  For it is from the Good that its light comes, and it is itself the image of the Good.  Thus we give glory to the Good by calling it Light . . .

God said, “Let there be light.”

 Indeed, just as the goodness proper to the deity permeates everything that exists, . . .  so that it illumines every creature and gives it life, . . .

and is its height and breadth, its cause and its purpose; so likewise with the image in which divine Goodness is revealed, that great sun which is wholly light, and whose brightness is unceasing . . .

It is the sun that enlightens everything and pours out upon the whole visible world that brightness of its rays . . .  It is the sun that allows bodies to develop, bestows life on them, purifies and renews them . . .

And just as Goodness moves all things, and just as God the Creator gathers together all things that are scattered, turning them towards himself as their source and center and perfect fulfillment; and as according to the Scriptures everything receives from the Good its structure and existence . . .

and as every object finds its own proper borders in the Good and all objects aim at the Good – the intelligent by way of knowledge, the sensible by way of the feelings, the merely animate by natural instinct, the inanimate by their simple share in existence – so, likewise, the light uses its property of revelation through images to gather together and draw to itself . . . everything that receives its rays.

That is why it is called ‘sun’ [helios] because everything is gathered together [aoelles] in the light and the light reunites what has been scattered.  It is towards this light that all perceptible realities are tending . . .

I am certainly not asserting in the manner of the ancients that the sun actually governs the visible world as god and maker of the universe.  But since the creation of the world, the invisible mysteries of God, thanks to his eternal power and godhead, are grasped by the intellect through creatures. (cf Romans 1:20)”  (Dionysius the Areopagite, THE ROOTS OF CHRISTIAN MYSTICISM, pp 221-222)

You will find links to my other photoblogs at My Photoblogs.

The Corrective Sun

Many, maybe most, Americans are sun loving folk and when we think ‘vacation’ we think ‘sun.’   We go to rest and relax in sunny climes and are greatly disappointed if we encounter clouds let alone rain.   On the other hand, often the locals in these sun-worshiping locations are praying for rain. There is an old Arab saying:   “All sun? Makes a desert.”     It means not that sunny skies always will create desert conditions, but if all you ever have is sun and never any rain, you will end up with a drought and then a desert.

If we go back to the desert fathers, who lived in a climate of constant sun, they saw the sun as something other than a smiling yellow disc in the sky under which they vacationed and got a golden tan.  They certainly understood how the sun can relentlessly punish the careless soul.  And they resided in the desert and saw exactly what the desert is:

“Life in the desert meant something totally opposite of what we are inclined to think it was. The desert was a place of death, testing, repentance, and spiritual warfare. It was not a place of escape as much as a place of countercultural engagement. It was not a retreat but the frontlines of spiritual warfare. It is a place where the victory of Christ over sin, death, and the devil was proclaimed, fought, and won. Under the power of the risen Lord, it is where the heart was purified, the passions conquered, sin destroyed, and humanity renewed.”  (Gary M. Burge and Brad Nassif, Bringing Jesus to the Desert, Kindle 262-65)

So keeping in mind what the desert represented to the monastics who fled there, and also  how they experienced the desert sun, we might begin to understand their reading of verses like “the sun will smite/burn you by day” in Psalm 121:6.

“The Psalm says of those who are tempted by thoughts of pleasure, anger, love of praise and the like, that the sun burns them by day and the moon by night (cf. Ps. 121:6). Pray, then, to be sheltered by the cool and refreshing cloud of God’s grace, so that you may escape the scorching heat of the enemy.”  (St. John of Karpathos, The Philokalia, Kindle Loc. 9260-63)

How many of us moderns would use the metaphor of a “cool and refreshing cloud” for God’s grace?   Though perhaps those of us who have been baked and burned by this summer’s relentless heat wave – and certainly the farmers whose crops are being destroyed by the drought – can  appreciate the beauty of a cloud, and welcome it as a metaphor for a blessing.  In general we associate clouds with gloom, depression and darkness.  The desert though can teach us to offer thanksgiving for the clouds that move over us in life.

A Sunny Day is a Sunny Day

It was -2 Degrees Fahrenheit  (-19 Celsius) when I took the picture of the rising sun below at Sugarcreek Metropark in wintry Montgomery County, Ohio, January of 2011.  The ground was white with snow; for me it was a three sweat shirt day.

I like seeing the sun through the trees.  The sunshine is welcomed by me.  The shadows created by the sunshine give depth to the scene which is why I stopped to enjoy it.  Photography as art is dependent on the contrasts between light and shadows to capture beauty.

The picture below was on the island of Maui in September, 2010.  The temperature was 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius).  Shorts and tee shirt were all that was needed. The white underfoot was sand.  And you know what?  The sun sets in Maui too – that’s what the photo shows.  It’s not always sunny there.  I enjoy a beautiful sunset wherever I am.

Hawaii.  Always warm, right?  Well, not quite.  Hawaii boasts a variety of climates.  Above is sunset at the beach, sea level.   In the picture below, still on Maui, we climbed to the top of the volcano, Haleakala, 10,000 feet above sea level.  Still Hawaii, sun was shining brightly.  The temperature?  A cold 35 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius)!    I had 2 short sleeve shirts on – as much as I packed for Hawaii.  The park ranger said I would freeze – but, hey, the temperature was above freezing.  I was on vacation in Hawaii in September – some had winter coats on – yes in Hawaii, but they don’t usually show you those photos in travel brochures.  We were way above the tree line, so no trees for the sun to shine through.  We were above the cloud line too, so we are looking down on the clouds below.   The photo goes to show that even on a cloudy day, that sun is still shining above.   Even at this height, just like everywhere else on earth, nightfall came.  The earth turned and the sun was lost from sight.

One more back in Dayton, Ohio.  Temperature was about 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius).  One sweatshirt was enough for me.   It was November, 2010.  One doesn’t even have to leave home to see true beauty in creation.  The sun shines brightly across the earth for all to enjoy.

The pictures above were taken at different times of the year in very different locations on our planet.   But the simple truth remains, the temperature on the sun’s surface was not at all changed by my location.  Beauty was there to see, and even to capture in a photograph.   And the sun shone brightly despite the change in latitude and longitude.  God generously and freely distributes that sunshine across His creation for all to enjoy.  Thanks be to God.  Even on the foggiest of days, that distant sun remains unchanged by our weather – it is we who cannot see that truth.  It doesn’t even have to be warm for us to see and enjoy the light of the sun.  Below the sun is there, though the fog tempers our experience of it.  This was in March of 2009.  The scene now exists only in photographs and memories – construction (progress?) tore all the trees down in 2010.

I saw some great sunrises in Charleston, South Carolina as well.  As the earth turned on its axis, the sun appeared to rise up right out of and over the Atlantic Ocean.  It was another wonderful sunny scene.  but the temperatures that December day in 2009 were about 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 degrees Celsius).  And whether (or weather) they like to admit it or not those sunny southern locals wore winter coats and furry hats as they walked along the beach.  I had my hooded sweatshirt on.  The temperature may be an objective fact, how we experience it is completely subjective. 

 Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun.  (Ecclesiastes 11:7)