Like a million suns
Limitless undying love which shines around me like a million suns,
And calls me on and on across the universe… — John Lennon & Paul McCartney
Recently while I was driving to York County, I began getting sleepy as I almost always do when I make long drives alone. The coffee I brought along was gone and didn’t seem to be helping, so I turned off the podcast I was listening to and cranked up the music. This time, I chose the Beatles, and soon I was wide awake, enjoying once again the music that was part of the soundtrack to my youthful life.
Of course, there was “Here Comes the Sun,” which for many years was my very favorite Beatles tune. And “The Long and Winding Road,” with its magnificent wall-of-sound orchestration. But the selection that spoke to me in a new way was another longtime favorite, “Across the Universe.” When I was young, I loved it for the gentle reassurance of the delicate music, and the meandering, poetic lyrics that told me someone out there besides me had a mind that wandered in many directions.
If you’re familiar with the song, you know that the words “nothing’s gonna change my world” repeat in the chorus with an almost hypnotic insistence. On the surface, these words sound like a naive delusion; wishful thinking that the coming years would prove false. But to me, even when I was young, I knew better than to take them literally. Rather, they suggested the presence of an eternal foundation that would remain unmoved despite external circumstances.
Hearing the song from where I now find myself, that suggestion is all the more powerful. The final verse, from which the quote above is drawn, resonated deeply with me as I thought of Jeff, and my parents, and my grandparents and other friends and family whose “limitless, undying love” really does shine around me like a million suns, reflecting the divine source to which they have all now returned.
The shining isn’t limited to those who have passed from this life. Every day, as I wade through mundane challenges magnified by the sadness and anxiety that crash on me in wave after wave, it’s the love shown by others that “calls me on and on, across the universe.” None of these people are superheroes or celebrities or miracle-workers. They’re just people who show up day after day, in my life or yours, with nothing remarkable about them except the presence of that same “limitless undying love” that’s so cleverly camouflaged by ordinary existence that we almost always miss it. But it’s there, and sometimes we can sense what we cannot see.
One of our ministers recently wrote that “faith is ultimately deciding that the real world is the unseen world.” Our eyes give us only a dim reflection of that reality, but as the saints and poets (and musicians) have always known, there is a blindingly brilliant radiance calling to our souls, shining like a million suns, cheering us on.