Morning’s Glories

photoYou’d think I knew nothing whatsoever of the morning’s glories, being a late sleeper by choice and reluctant to go anywhere outside of my own quiet home even when forced to be Up early. Or what feels like early to me. Yet I get up before dawn at least once a week for the trek down to Dallas, and I’ve certainly flown plenty of times on morning flights that required my appearance at the gate at some ghastly hour, since it’s usually slightly cheaper then and often it means arriving at my destination with some margin of time to get me to my intended lodging by bedtime, if not to earlier events.

And amazingly, I’ve found things to enjoy in the morning hours. Sunrise can easily be as grand a spectacle as a sunset, and when the world begins to stir it’s often in fascinating and literally eye-opening ways that the sleepy end of day can’t share. There is a tinge of excitement to wondering what lies in the day ahead, and sometimes even a sense of urgency that can stir me to look forward with greater intensity to what is to come.

Still, I’d far rather lie abed and greet the day in slothful comfort. If I can do so with the curtain open and the splash of a brilliant morning glory peering in at me, that’s perfectly welcome and will likely make my rising the easier. Just let me greet the day at my own pace and I will happily sing the morning’s glories when I’ve gotten up much later as I’d like.

In the meantime, on this day of America celebrating the immeasurable gifts found in and through the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I am reminded that the most dazzling and magnificent light is that streaming from the souls of good people who go about the work of making the world better for all, no matter what the risk. May we shed light on our neighbors, friends and family through what we do and the way we live, today and every day. No matter when the day actually starts.

Hope, as Emily* has Said…

Welcome, 2014!

This may be the first time I’m posting anyone else’s writing on my blog, but don’t worry, I’ll start with my own poem. New Year’s Day is a good time to both do a new thing or two and affirm our traditions, so here goes. Happy New Year’s Day, all!photoOn Wide Wings

By the frigid light of morning, by the pale edge of the sky,

In the whispers of the gloaming waits a hawk that, by and by,

Stretches up his head and perches, keen eye searching on the lake,

Where the echo of the church’s bells call out: Awake! Awake!

Wings sweep wide, then, of a sudden, take him soaring to the heights

Where sunrise is turning golden, burnishing the hawk with lights

Bright as gilt, his feathers flashing as he darts across the chill-

Watered lake, and quickly splashing, snares a fish, and what was still,

Silent, peaceful, secret-keeping in the dark vault of the night,

All bursts from that quiet sleeping, with the hawk called by the light–

Now the day is fully opened, like a daffodil in spring,

Brought to bloom in joy and hope and shaded by the hawk’s wide wing–

As he soars and daylight blazes, my heart, too, begins to rise,

Knows how sweet this best of days is, that would raise me to the skies.digital artwork from a photo* Emily Dickinson:

Hope     

“Hope” is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I’ve heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.

It’s Early Yet

graphite line drawingBeing an inveterate late riser, and a crabby one when forced to get up before I’m ready, no matter what the hour, I am flummoxed for the most part by those who tout the glories of the break of day. I say, for the most part, because even I have been known to admire the sunrise, and even in my worst and most heel-dragging, snarling moments can see how incredibly pretty and magical the beginning of the day can be. In fact, I can outright admire and relish the whole thing if I know I get to watch the show and go instantly to bed again until I’ve had my requisite number of hours abed.

I’ve a fairly wide variety of reasons for not having children, too, not least among them my aforementioned monstrosity in the beginnings of the day, a time when babies and young persons of all persuasions and personalities are apt to be chirping and squealing adorably and performing all manner of gymnastics and, just possibly, noisy and/or noisome bodily functions that would demand kind attentions from me. I am not that nice at the best of times, never mind any time before I’m willing to rise up and be Awake. You can imagine how the very prospect of pregnancy and its sleep disruptions, and those only leading precipitously to years more of the other sort, would seem to me, most particularly as I was already sliding off the back five of my fourth decade of life by the time I got married and thus would have had any hope of an ongoing partner in the proceedings.

You must know, however, that I think children are a very fine invention and well worth the trouble, and also that I have nothing but the greatest admiration for that mystical marvel that occurs when the tiniest edge of the sun peers over the horizon and then in seeming seconds is blazing up the morning sky. It’s just that I am content to leave all of the heavy lifting in those categories to finer beings for as long as I can. My siblings and other relatives and friends have gifted me with an abundance of outstandingly beautiful, brilliant and engaging children to admire, cuddle, tease, flirt with, trade tall tales with or about, and otherwise delight in before handing them back to their parents just in time for any less scintillating activities to be addressed more expertly and semi-willingly than I would do. And dawn, well–that will likely become part of my repertoire when I hit that Certain Age incapable of sleeping massive amounts any longer, but until then, it belongs to others, except in my imaginings or when I am dragged out of repose by duty or airport hours or some other sort of the unavoidably morning-oriented difficulties life presents.

So I am quite content to enjoy a made-up version of sunrise, even making a picture of it with a very slightly baby-shaped mother-to-be washed in its dainty light as she lingers in some little secret garden. I am not designed either for motherhood or for getting up at the first whisper of dawn, but that needn’t prevent my admiring them both from a safe distance. I can assume my odds of conceiving a child at this advanced age have shrunk to a manageable nothingness by now, and I will count on the passage of my hours, days and years to prepare me for that unthinkable morning when I might willingly resurrect my carcass from the pleasant dead-of-bed state before daybreak. Meanwhile, my fancies are large enough to amuse and amaze me, and I thank the rest of you who have so kindly practiced and reported on either of the foregoing astonishing activities and reported back to me for my edification and vicarious enjoyment. I may get back to you with my own first-daylight infatuations someday, but it’s early for that yet.digital illustration

Wide Skies

photoIt’s early in the year. I’ve had my little first cold of the year immediately after New Year’s Day, enjoyed getting reacquainted with my innards with the help of a quick annual doctor visit and subsequent updates on my coronary calcium (still no sign of same, thank you very much), allergy testing (finally going to deal with longtime mild but annoying symptoms) and crossed another handful of tasks off my eternal household to-do lists. But as we’re still in the first month of the year, that leaves a whole lot of things yet to be done, things yet to even be imagined.photoAnd I like that, rather. There’s something compelling about looking up at sun, moon and stars without being able to read in them any threat or promise more concrete than my own fantasies, knowing that I might well find great adventures ahead, because that’s simply how my life plays out thus far. The unknown, while it has the potential to be prickly and problematic in any number of ways, also has the possibility of being as wide open and beautiful and thrilling as the bright wide sky.photo

White Velvet and 24 Karat Gold

Morning doesn’t always bring peace. Sorrow may linger, grief that is not wiped away by night or sleep or even tears.digitally doctored photo

Beauty, though, can help approximate the sense of peace, help me to recollect a meditative, even if it’s melancholy, calm. This, too, brings some small measure of what I remember as true peace, and lets me know that the capacity remains. In possibility is hope. In hope is rest. In rest, I can let go, if just for now, the troubles of the hour.

A cloudless dawn has its own quiet way of pouring out benevolence that, if not cure, brings respite of a kind and momentarily distracts the heart from its dull void. At the morning’s break, low-lying mist pools, thick and velvety, swirling so slowly in its densely silver gleam, it seems to be a lake–indeed, a mystic lake where it would be no great surprise to see that shimmering arm emerge that bears Excalibur.

Along the horizon creeps that cottony blue, transforming first to palest violet, then rose, then saturated orange, and finally, shooting sun-flares so bright and dazzling they blind when they reflect from glass sky scraper walls, pillars of wholly molten gold blazing beacon-sharp against the now bright-cobalt sky. Silhouetted there, a hawk perches on its lamppost throne, surveying all as if to say, I’m looking out for you. Let go of worry; I will see that all’s as it should be. And with a sweep of his unfolded wings, plunges off the lamp into the broader light of day.digitally doctored photo

It Finally Dawned on Me

Another completely open secret: I am one of the world’s chief exponents of that special breed known as Not A Morning Person. Everyone who knows me even a little is well aware that it’s my firm belief that I am thoroughly Anti-ante-meridian. And that if the world should happen to come perilously close to its end before noonish wherever I happen to be, I will not be prepared to put on my cape and tights, grab my magic wand and zip off to the rescue. So sorry, y’all.

Yippee Skippy for me, I married a man who, despite being unable himself to hibernate for the long periods I require on a constant basis, is sympathetic to my pathetic plight and leaves me untormented, bedding yanked up around my ears, in my mummified position of contentedly deep sleep when he arises.

Except for emergencies and Sundays.

On Sundays, one of the six days a week that he works long hours, if I sleep my Required Daily Allowance, I’d either better’ve gone to bed by about 8 pm on Saturday–not often convenient for those married to guys who conduct, and whose many colleagues and students conduct, concerts at, say, 8 pm on Saturdays and such–or if I sleep in Sunday morning the next time I’ll see him is, well, Monday. That’s how it works for a church choirmaster, at least one with a can’t-dash-home-between length of commute and Evensong on the docket.

The remaining Sunday option for me is to get over myself. So I haul my carcass off of the oh-so-magnetic mattress in the pre-dawn dark and crawl around until I can find my way to join him in the car for the trek SSE toward the Big City. And guess what: I found out there’s pretty stuff all over the sky at sunrise.photoSometimes it’s just the coloration of the dawn that’s so painterly. Marked at the horizon with the lace edging of silhouetted trees and hedges and power transformers, it stretches violet and rose and salmon and gold as far as the bleary eye can see. Almost always, there are thousands of birds taking to the skies en route to their own day jobs, the egrets flapping like clean sheets on the laundry line as they head out fishing and the grackles peppering the air as they look for actual clean laundry to besmirch, the pigeons heading for delicious night shift dinner garbage for their breakfast and the hawks remaining puffed up in their patrician dignity on lampposts while watching for the first ambulatory happy-meal to scurry by below. Even the traffic, being sparser and lit up with twinkly head- and taillights, looks far less plebeian and grubby.photoI like the scenery next to me, too.

I can look around at all the glories of an awakening sky and be amazed and awed (yes, odd) and impressed and moved by this stuff I’d never see if I stayed abed. But really, I could get all that gushy admiration going by looking at a great sunset, right? Or if it has to be dawn, by ogling some nice Impressionist paintings or a super-duper set of postcards or some dandy cinematographer’s artwork on the big screen, and I’d never have to pry myself out of that come-hither blanket and pillow nest I so admire. Then I look at the scenery next to me again. I really like that scenery.

And it dawns on me. Seeing the sun rise may be all it’s cracked up to be, but so are NASCAR driving and alligator tagging and ice fishing, to those born to love those activities, and who am I to deprive them of their fill? No reason for me to compete for what I do not desire. I’m happy to report that I do, it turns out, appreciate a beautiful sunrise, but I have no particular need to reaffirm my appreciation except when it’s built into my limited opportunities to spend time with the man who, kinder chronographical conditions permitting, doesn’t harass me when I’m sleeping, even if the sun is getting a bit distant over the yardarm. Now, he is a sight for sorely sleepless eyes.photo