I’m a morning person. I tend to wake up early even if there is no alarm set. I like to get up and have some coﬀee, read, reﬂect, and write. I enjoy the quiet. I like to start the day slowly.
In our current house I have a small ‘den’ at the end of the hall; it’s the space where I begin these days. It is ﬁlled with lots of things that display my interests and activities. There are hammocks and hammock quilts in view and in the closet. There is a sewing machine (thread injector, really!) that I use to make such things. There are books of various genres. There is a relief map of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where I spent many years of my childhood and still spend time hiking and camping. There is a hat rack on the wall. There are tools stacked under the combination desk/work table where I plan and plot what may be coming next.
The desk is fairly plain compared to others. It is a simple design with no drawers or shelves; it is covered with a butcher block looking laminate. It sags just a tad in the middle because of poor design, but it’s nothing too major. It is serviceable, if not aesthetically pleasing.
But the best thing about this desk is that it sits under a window. That window faces east (112º, if you want to be precise). That window aﬀords me the opportunity on a regular basis to sit and sip coﬀee while watching the sunrise. From the comfort of my chair, with my plans laid out before me, with my coﬀee cup by my side, I can kick back and observe the simplest of astronomical phenomena. Every day the sun rises in that direction.
Ever since we’ve been on this planet, we have watched for the sun to rise again on a new day. Darkness was a time of fear. Ancient people built all manner of stone circles and temples and markers to remind themselves that the sun was going to grow again. Winter would not last forever; warmer days lay ahead. The ﬁrst glimmer of light was welcomed as a sign of hope. Light would shine again and life could continue.
We moderns do not give it a great deal of thought. Most of us sleep through it. We pretty much take for granted that the sun is going to rise and we’re going to go on with ‘life as normal.’ We have apps to let us know about such things. I have one that is simply called ‘Sunrise’ and it tells me the times for sunrise and sunset. It will rise at 07:45EST today. I will already be out and about at that time. I will not be here to watch this morning’s show.
But I am ﬁnding that watching sunrise in my new situation is taking on the feel of a spiritual practice for me. On the desk in front of me are my plans and projects and deadlines and appointments and priorities. There are lists of things to be done and matters that demand my attention and eﬀort. There are days to come in which I hope to see changes and improvements. There are lines and blocks and check marks and bullet points. When I look down at what is in front of me, I see a lot of myself.
But when I look up and out, I see the stars. I see Venus shining brilliantly right now as the morning star. I see Jupiter following behind and much dimmer. I see the faintest lightening of color on the horizon. At ﬁrst I do a double take to make sure I’m seeing it clearly. It is so subtle that it makes me second-guess my eyesight. But then it gradually grows and just above the horizon it starts to show the colors of the day. Eventually it will transform into a palette of diﬀerent shades—each unique to that particular morning. Clouds will dance in and out of the scene. Sunrise takes a while. It’s worth watching.
Eventually the sun itself will top the horizon and the light will become too bright to look at directly. Now it is possible to see everything else in its light. The trees and houses, the cars and buildings, the apartments and streets will all be in plain view. Another day of life will go on.
There are times when I want to rush things. There are times when I would like problems to be solved and answers to be given and issues resolved. There are times when I can imagine how much better matters could be. There are times when, in my mind’s eye, we are further along with all the plans and projects that I have conceived. I can write in the boxes quicker than I can ﬁll in the reality.
Sunrise slows me. Sunrise reminds me that things can take time. Sunrise happens and I watch and practice waiting. I know what is going to happen. I know the light is coming. I know the day is starting. I know that I have already been up and preparing for what lies ahead. But sunrise teaches me to allow things to happen. Sunrise reminds me that my plans and projects are but a small part of what is going on in the world.
Watching sunrise is wonderful. If you have not seen one in a while, I encourage you to try to do so.