New Morning Light
New morning light has a uniqueness which makes it something special.
I have been a morning person for longer than I can remember. Born and raised in rural Wisconsin, I got used to getting up before the sun. Especially in the shortened daylight hours of winter, days begin before morning light.
We rely on experience and habits to negotiate the darkness before morning light. Getting out of bed and from one place to another is more a matter of touch than sight. There may be painful reminders we do not remember everything hiding in the dark.
The sky gradually grows lighter day by day. Objects and other people emerge from the darkness.
New morning light spreads across the sky earlier and earlier as winter fades into spring.
I have spent nights when new morning light was a welcome relief. Anxiety or regret, fears or pain have kept me awake at times waiting for morning.
I have spent nights concerned about other people, praying for their relief. There have been nights I spent searching for a way forward, looking for what to do next.
New morning light is a sign, even when we do not know what to do, we still have hope.
The light of morning can be a beacon for us to follow each day. We struggle to make hay while the sun shines.
Darkness seems to hold us in, confining us with what we do not understand. The light of morning shows us there is a way to escape our confinement.
Many of us appear to be afraid of monsters waiting for us in the darkness. We would like to check behind the closet door or under the bed.
It is a relief to see the new light of morning each day.
Stillness in New Morning Light
There are places where we can see the stars and the moon before the new morning light. Buildings and people are still obscured by darkness, but we can see distant lights in the sky. The light of dawn gradually begins to fill the sky, hiding the stars.
Growing up in Wisconsin, new morning light came with a deep, sacred stillness. Now my mornings often arrive with their own cacophony, both in the world and within me.
Listening to sacred stillness in new morning light is a conscious decision.
Some mornings. like this one now, writing these words, I intentionally rise in darkness. I make my way in darkness to listen to the stillness.
The stillness, interrupted by the sound of traffic or my own thoughts, envelops me. Like the stillness and the darkness, spiritual life wraps itself around me. As I pay attention to the depth of stillness the first light of morning grows around me.
Just as buildings and trees emerge in the light, spiritual life slowly enlightens me.
Sacred stillness wraps itself around me and draws my own light within me. The new morning light is not limited to the sun dawning over the horizon. Light shines in the stillness of each morning, awakening us to deep truths.
We may struggle or miss the point morning after morning, day after day. The light of the morning slowly dawns in us as we listen to sacred stillness.
We recognize our world as it gradually comes into focus.
Morning light expanding to fill the world extinguishes the artificial lights of the night.
Community of New Morning Light
Listening to sacred stillness in new morning light can feel like an isolating practice. We may feel being by ourselves can enhance our experience of sacred stillness.
Actually, we practice our listening in community with other people.
This Friday, for example, my wife and I will arise in the darkness. We will drive to listen and pray for an hour as new morning light emerges into the world. We are part of a pryer vigil at our church.
It can be a challenge for me, as more of an extrovert, to spend time listening to stillness. The practice of experiencing new morning light can feel like a lonely pursuit.
As my practice has developed I have come to see we are not alone. Even when we are by ourselves in the darkness listening to stillness, we are members of a community.
While we may not be able to see them, people are listening with us all around the world. The new morning light emerges for them at different times around the clock. People are listening before me and after me.
Together, our community of new morning light wraps the world in a layer of listening.
We are each listening for similar reasons, and for our own uniquely personal reasons.
There is always new morning light emerging into the world somewhere. Hour after hour, day after day, our community is never not listening.
Not only does our listening community reach around the world each day. It reaches back as people have listened to sacred stillness each morning for thousands of years. We reach forward into the future together in a community.
Each morning is one more step in the story of our listening together.
Finding New Morning Light
Some mornings are more challenging than others. We may awaken to a cloudy sky which blocks out the new morning light.
It helps me when I remember the light is still there even when I may not be able to see it.
The fact that clouds or buildings or people might get in our way does not mean the light has gone away. We have not been abandoned just because our view is blocked.
As we sit in darkness, listening to sacred stillness, new morning light comes into the world. We are members of a community of new morning light.
Where will we find new morning light today?
When will we spend time listening to sacred stillness this week?
[Image by DRA Studio]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and leadership coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and university professor, and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com, and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.