When Morning Gilds the Skies

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. 
James 1:17

In one of her nature poems, Emily Dickinson declared “the sun just touched the morning.” This first light experience during my morning walk around the lake is a simple yet life-giving blessing. I am mesmerized by the metamorphosis as the sun slowly rises. I’m prone to just stand and stare, lost in the beauty of God’s creation.

Clearwater Lake, MN       Can you just feel the quiet?



The sun touching the morning is the perfect antidote for the sick feeling I carried in my heart. On my sunrise walk I ruminated about the town hall debate between our presidential hopefuls. Lots of emotion flooded to the surface the previous evening while witnessing a display of insults, attacks, deflecting, avoidance, and condescending non-verbals. Being present in the beauty of God’s creation was a soothing balm.

As the sun continued to present its colors, I spotted this flag unfurled behind a few trees at the water’s edge.


My first thoughts were I am not inclined to do much flag waving these days. While I am more than grateful to live free in a first world country, it’s getting harder and harder to belt out “I’m Proud to be An American.” At times, embarrassment displaces pride.  Continual reports claiming the misuse and denigration of women by former President Clinton and the Republican presidential candidate paint a dismal picture of leadership integrity and moral character. My thoughts turned to the women I used to counsel that were traumatized by sexual and domestic abuse. I couldn’t help but wonder how victims  were responding to the recent displays of psychological power and control. And were the  vulgarities we were subjected to on social media resurfacing old lies of shame and false guilt?

And yet. The presence of Jesus and God’s provision of community in the midst of my discouragement and at times, disgust for the political arena, are larger than the reality of humanity’s failings. Perhaps we are in a season that St. John of the Cross calls luminous darkness, “the coexistence of deep suffering and intense joy in the saints.” Though we grieve these tumultuous days, we grieve together.

I ended my morning walk with this lovely “gilding of the sky,”
and His unchanging presence in a world that is dedicated to shifting shadows.


When morning gilds the sky,
our hearts awaking cry:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
in all our work and prayer
we ask his loving care:
May Jesus Christ be praised!


Emily Dickinson quote

Emily Dickinson (1830–86). Complete Poems. 1924.

Part Two: Nature, V


When Morning Gilds the Skies

Words: From the Ka­thol­isch­es Ge­sang­buch (Würz­burg, Ger­ma­ny: cir­ca 1744) (Beim frühen Mor­gen­licht); trans­lat­ed from Ger­man to Eng­lish by Ed­ward Cas­wall in Form­by’s Ca­tho­lic Hymns (Lon­don: 1854), & Ro­bert S. Bridg­es in the Yat­ten­don Hymn­al (Ox­ford, Eng­land: 1899).

Music: Laud­es Do­mi­ni, Jo­seph Barn­by, in Hymns An­cient and Mod­ern (Lon­don: 1868) (MI­DI, score). Barn­by wrote the tune spe­ci­fic­al­ly for this hymn.


Luminous Darkness definition

Rohr, Richard. 2011. Falling Upward.



5 thoughts on “When Morning Gilds the Skies

  1. It’s been a difficult year. I’ve also had many people express to me how this year has revictimized them. Thank you for your words of hope.


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