In one of her nature poems, Emily Dickinson declared “the sun just touched the morning.” For me, this first light hours experience during my walk around the lake is one of life’s simplest yet most life-giving blessings. I am mesmerized by the changing sky as the sun slowly rises. I’m prone to just stand and stare, lost in the beauty of God’s creation.
The sun touching the morning is the perfect antidote for the sick feeling I carried in my heart. This particular walk became a soothing balm as I ruminated about the town hall debate between our presidential hopefuls. Lots of emotion flooded to the surface while witnessing a display of insults, attacks, deflecting, avoidance, and condescending non-verbals. As I walked I continued to wonder: are dear ones who have been victimized by power and control being re-traumatized by what they are hearing and seeing?
As the sun continued to present its colors across the sky, 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 in America.
Vulgar talk and aggressive sexual behaviors against women by some of our elite countrymen are grievous, heinous, and intolerable.These accounts are no different from the countless stories of wounded souls that sat across from me in my counseling office and in small groups. I fear shame may blanket true identity and false guilt will rear it’s ugly head once again as they are exposed to the exploits in today’s news.
And yet. The presence of Jesus and God’s generous blessings in the midst of my discouragement, disappointment, 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.” I sense this is not only an individual state, but a collective one in our churches and communities as well.
I ended my morning stroll around the lake with this lovely “gilding of the sky.” Joy in dark times. May we all discover The Light that God provides.
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.