Mornings. They have always, forever, been my companion. I used to wake up for school before my parents, before my sister, just to savor the quiet, dark moments that hang so tangibly before the world breaks open. Some of the stillest images stamped into my memory are from summers spent as a camp counselor, when I and countless others would wake before our cabins and scatter across the landscape. Those few wonderful, albeit damp, minutes spent alone on the lake, praying, watching the dawn’s mist float across the water’s surface, they were treasures. My job now demands waking at an hour that many people would not even consider morning. But even still, I love it, for its whispering beauty. The morning is a mysterious acquaintance, but waking within its secret borders starts the process of befriending. Everyone knows about the friend that is night, but what of the personality of the morning? Yes, rough around the edges at first as you shake off the clinging slumber, but then so gentle and careful. And you’ll only befriend it properly if you approach it in stillness, giving it the time to speak into your soulful depths.
I hate sleeping in, as much as I need it sometimes. I have to take a few moments to mourn when I sleep past the sun’s breaking. We have these massive bay windows in the apartment where we live now. The view is nothing spectacular: a few shops and restaurants; some spindly street-side trees; a construction site whose plan, I believe, is to absolutely obliterate the world record for longest time spent on a street corner project. But, as our eye-level is situated just at the tops of the city buildings, we get sky. Loads of sky. Sky that blares into our entire, one-roomed living space, that shouts its colors against the wall opposite our bed. Sometimes, when I wake before my alarm, I’ll catch the sunrise reflected on that wall, and it’s like a rope tied to my waist, tugging me forward. It’s all I can do to hop out of bed, shove my glasses onto my blind eyes, and race the few steps to the top of our stairs, where I can better see the colors splitting across the sky and the light approaching in the way only it can be: both gentle and powerful.
And I think it is that, the light, that grips me so hard for the character of the morning. It’s always about the breaking of the light. This is the cause of the color wheel of blues, purples, pinks, and oranges that slowly emerges from the just above the bricks in the right side of my view. This is what makes the birds sing louder. This is what makes my plants all peer in the same direction. This is the reflection on every building face, light post, and twig that makes my eyes shoot east down Broad Street, in hopes of catching a glimpse of the source. Every morning it’s different, but every morning it’s there. The beauty of the reflection is just too much for my eyes and my heart to handle.
Isn’t that the way He works? Isn’t that the point of all this beauty? From every little branch to every created soul, anything on which His light reflects causes our eyes to bolt towards His face, in hopes of catching a glimpse of the Source. And when we look, He never withholds Himself. These mirrors here- the mornings, the light, the black and white woodpecker with the red stripe that visits my feeder- they are, indeed, beautiful. But only as beautiful as He can be. People recall God’s character in very different ways. I have found that in my confusion and my cluttered head and my weak little spirit, it’s the beauty that grounds me, that speaks truth to His character. When I experience beauty here, I’m reminded of the fact that it’s just a minuscule fraction of His beauty. But still it’s enough to sweep me away. And then I’m aware of His goodness. And His gifts. And His grace that both gives us these incredible beauties and gives me the heart to cherish them. All for the purpose of understanding Him better. And that is just wild.
So, thanks, God, for the morning and the woodpecker and the brick wall boasting a faded “Coca Cola” ad that reflects the light everyday and spins my head into a whirl of understanding. You are beautiful.