To Greet the Dawn

sunrise 005I wandered into the living room at four, having given the whole sleeping business up for the night. Ani raised one ear and an eyebrow then curled up tight and refused to budge. It is odd though, now that I do not have to be up early, I seem to have reverted to an earlier mode when the house was so full of people that rising at ungodly hours was the only time I had to do things in peace.

There is something about the dark hours when the world is still sleeping, as if beyond the local noise you can hear the slow heartbeat of earth. There is nothing ‘ungodly’ about these moments, in fact quite the opposite.

How can you not feel close to the divine in a silence broken only by the wind in the trees… or looking up at star-strewn heavens? How can you not be touched by awe as the dawn paints the horizon in gold and flame and the first blackbird opens the day with song?

Our worlds are, for so many of us, artificial. Sunrise occurs behind closed blinds at the flick of a switch, TV and radio and the eternal rumble of traffic drown the delicate morning paean and a golden dawn cannot be seen in many places. We don’t realise that, of course, as we watch the first light creep into our rooms, busy with our preparations for the day. It was borne in upon me a few days ago as my son, also sleepless, had set his camera up to catch the dawn. I drove from village to town, stopping to capture something of the blaze of light on the way. He, hanging half-naked out of his bedroom window in the frost, caught only a tiny streak of gold above the rooftops, his horizon bounded by chimneypots.

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I love the dawn. From where I sit to write I can turn to the window and look due east, and will always stop to watch those fleeting moments of glory that touch the sky. I am incredibly lucky, yet so accustomed had I become to the daily joy of greeting the dawn it was not until a city-dwelling friend mentioned that it had been years since he had seen a true dawn that I realised just how lucky…. That seemed to me a tragedy, yet I have been a city dweller much of my life and know it to be true.

Knowledge and realisation are so very different.

We know things, take them for granted through habituation and it takes something to spark our attention before we can consciously notice them… and it is only at that moment that they become real for us again, vivid, vital and full of wonder.

As I write, the wind howls through the trees, drowning any sound but its own, an elemental tide of rushing air. From here there is no sulphurous glow from the town to colour the sky and the birds still sleep.

Soon, very soon, I will see that first shy blush as the false dawn touches the clouds and I will watch to see if the sky is clear enough to allow the painted horizon to blaze or whether the dawn fires will quietly suffuse the clouds with a gentle glow. I will listen to the waking of the morning as the birds sing and I will do so in full awareness, grateful that I can share a moment in solitude with something greater than I… and know It.

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41 thoughts on “To Greet the Dawn

  1. May I say, I am absolutely certain you are right about everything referring to the glories of waking to greet the dawn. That said, I am completely incoherent at that hour and much prefer to lurk at the edge of the night and watch the sun go down. The beginning of the witching hour. The gloaming. Twilight. There are so many ways to describe it but the nuances are lost on me. I just enjoy the burning sun being swallowed by inky darkness and the quiet of the house with the boy in bed.

    (Which I am still waiting on now and it is 11:36 pm here. Sigh.)

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  2. There are so many ways in which the modern life has deprived us of our nature. Daylight slavings time completely discombobulates my inner time clock for weeks, as it does for most people. The noise of traffic, too many city buildings, and an unnatural congestion of people stacked in buildings one on top of another like a living mausoleum are not our natural way of being.

    Doesn’t it seem strange that the hardest times in life are often the times when we appreciate the most how precious it is?

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  3. I only see the sunrise and sunset long after it happens, catching remnants of coloured clouds, due to living in the middle of a town. I get the dawn all to myself though, and this is always the best part of my day…

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  4. I think dawn is so precious because there are few people around to see it. Sunset is beautiful in its own way, and the murmurations of starlings are a sight to behold. But there are still people around, and the noise of the town and city assault the ears.

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  5. Beautiful, Sue. I’m an early riser too. Though socked in by trees, I love to watch the predawn light filter between the branches. Sometimes the whole sky is lavender here. It’s a sacred time. A lovely post.

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  6. Wonderful piece. When we were on the marina, the sun would rise on our bow, and set on our helm. Fabulous. On our trips up river to Stratford Upon Avon, our stop off points were secluded, private and quiet. You feel a privilege to be there, seeing nature at its best (and maybe worst in bad weather) but it has a sense all of its own.

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