I’m an early riser, up before dawn. I pray in my bedroom every morning. Since my chair faces west, I never see the sunrise directly. Still, my window allows me to watch the coming of the dawn every day for much of the year.
When I first look out my window in the morning, all I see is black—except for a few security lights on the school across the yard. But otherwise, all is dark. But as I sit in my chair and begin to pray, the scene outside my window begins to change—very, very gradually. Almost imperceptibly. The color begins to go from pitch black to black-with-a-tinge-of-dark-dark-blue. A few minutes later I begin to detect the outline of the huge tree right outside my window. I can see no branches at first. Just the general outline of the tree. But soon the dark blue color begins to overtake the black, and I can begin to see the branches of the tree.
This is about the same time I hear the chirping of a few birds. I marvel that they are awake, because it is still “dark.” If I look away for ten minutes or so and then glance back out my window, I can now see the branches of the tree clearly and I can even distinguish a few leaves. The color outside is no longer black, but a deep, pervasive blue.
Within minutes, I can see the tree and everything else outside my window. And I know that dawn has arrived. The sun might not be up yet, but day has come. Definitely. On a clear day, I see the first rays of the sun illuminating the buildings up on the hill in the distance.
I watch the coming of the dawn day after day and never tire of it. In fact, the other day I was thinking: Dawn is a lot like God. How?
First, the dawn is 100% reliable. It comes every day. In fact, the dawn has come every single
day of my life for over 72 years! What else in my life has been so reliable, so certain, so true? That’s one way the dawn is like God. They both come no matter what frame of mind I have or what circumstances I’m in. The dawn and God come unfailingly.
But precisely because the dawn comes every single day, I can easily take it for granted. I can say, “Ho hum… another dawn. No big deal.” But every dawn is a big deal. Because every day is a big deal. Because every day is a gift from God. Every day is a gift for me to breathe in… to move around in… to pray in… to work in… to learn and love in… and to find God alive in. Those words of G. K. Chesterton come to mind, the words he said at the end of a day: “Here dies another day during which I have had eyes, ears, hands, and the great world around me, and tomorrow begins another. Why am I allowed two?” Every dawn fills me with gratitude that I am allowed another day.
The dawn comes gradually. Not all at once. That too reminds me of God. Our God seems to prefer the gradual to the sudden, the slow to the rushed. Our God seems to be in no hurry. If
it takes 4.6 billion years to create the earth, so be it. If it takes a lifetime for me to really, really trust God, that’s okay too. Like the dawn, God is often unobtrusive too. Most dawns come with little fanfare. That’s often how God shows up in our lives. No flashing lights. No clashing of cymbals. No fancy pyrotechnics. Just the deep sense that Someone is walking with us.
I don’t know what your experience of dawn has been. Perhaps you’d like to share a few thoughts about dawn or respond to some of the thoughts here. Or, if you’re not an early riser, maybe you’ve experienced some sunsets you’d like to tell us about. I welcome your responses.
Here’s a song called “Come Awaken Love” by Hunter Thompson. Sometimes we “sleep walk” through life. This song asks God to awaken love in our heart. Just as the dawn takes back the light, may we allow God to take back our heart through love.
What are some of your thoughts today? I invite you to share below.
PS: I will be giving a weekend retreat at Benet House Retreat Center in Rock Island, IL from September 15-17. The retreat is entitled “Celebrating Four Gifts of Autumn: Beauty, Harvest, Letting Go, and Hope.” Visit their website or call Sister Bobbi at 309-283-2109 for more information. I’d love to see you there!