I start my day at my dining room table, looking eastward through glass doors to my back yard where Spring is currently laboring to discard an unrelenting Winter clearly unwilling to leave. Here I journal and meditate, and the east view adds the dimension of dawn. Cloud covers are common here, so the dawn always pushes against the darkness of a clouded night by creating splendid displays of pinks, reds, golds…and eventually daylight. The picture above is a good example of what I am describing.
This morning, however, in the first hints of dawn, a small sliver to the north broke through the cloud cover and a bright white light announced its presence, pure sunlight ahead of schedule. It seemed almost defiant to me, a prelude of things to come, ready or not. I found myself mesmerized by this stubborn white light. The cloud cover persisted. I checked the weather, and within minutes, it began to rain, and the white light was swallowed in the clouds.
I realized that the white light, fleeting and imperious, was more powerful than the lovely dawn colors, the gray cloud cover or the rain. These were more fleeting, actually, than the white light, because that white light reminded me that the sunlight was always there, always waiting for its moment, and despite clouds, rain, darkness…the sunlight would show itself. Just because, for a finite period of time, I couldn’t see it did not mean it did not exist. Dawn disrupts the darkness of despair.
It seemed to offer an analogy for our times, full of the darkness of deconstructions and dysfunctions, suffering and often despair. Those paying attention notice all this chaos and fret; many pretend none of it is there or avoid facing it down. Nonetheless, it is there. Last night, clutching a remote control as a gateway to “TV reality”, one could tune into ESPN for the frenzy of the NFL Draft or CNN for a sobering report on the war in Ukraine. These coexist.
Dawn can disrupt our patterns of avoidance or despair by reminding us that darkness is followed by light, that the sun still exists, and that planet earth thrives in part through sunlight. No matter how we navigate the realities that surround us, nature has a steadiness of purpose and pattern. The rhythm of night and day persists. At some future moment, this could be altered, but for now, they coexist. A sliver of white light reminded me of all of this.
The metaphor that shapes my hope for making a contribution to the planet through elderhood is the lighthouse, a steady light in storms, a beacon of guidance when others are tossed about by those storms, a safe harbor. That white sliver of light also reminded me of that metaphor and that commitment.
“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”