"Do you have the patience to wait
Till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
Till the right action arises by itself?"
The sunrise is my teacher.
I have observed enough sunrises to know that there are at least three distinct acts. Generally speaking, the first is the dark part. The sky is typically a deep blue - lighter toward the horizon - with dark, indigo clouds. There is a feeling of quiet and reverence, wondering.
During the second act, streaks and patches of rose, tangerine, and/or lavender begin to glow and develop.
It is the colorful, spectacular part, and clouds make it even more textured and interesting.
The third act is when the sun finally emerges over the horizon, beaming its bright, dazzling rays upon the new day. The darkness lifts, and it is the time of illumination.
In between, there is often grayness or dullness - and time. The drab colors of the in-between sky might suggest an overcast day. And some days will, of course, be overcast. But many will transform into a canvas of color and light. If the river is still and unfrozen, I am treated to a mirrored view.
I haven't had much success in predicting the course of any particular sunrise. From one act to the next, sunrises often surprise me. Some begin with an intensity that fizzles out. Others begin rather drab and then transform - sometimes quite suddenly - into something magnificent.
On some mornings, there is a blink-and-you-miss-it moment of brilliance. If you're not paying attention, you'll convince yourself that it never happened.
Some cloudy mornings, I have waited and waited for the moment when the sun shines through a break in the clouds. And when it does, it makes the waiting worth it. For example, it was my daughter's birthday recently, and I sat on the dock for a long time that morning waiting for the moment when the sun burst through for the first time, thinking of our years together. As I watched the tie-dye sunrise sky go through transformations of color and shape, it was almost like witnessing her path unfolding. And - come to think of it - mine, as well.
The in-between stages are a time for patience. Those moments when the light shines through are so breathtaking and powerful and give value and meaning to all the moments leading up to them.
There might be chapters in our lives that seem gray, dull, motionless, even hopeless. But there's more. The sunrise teaches me this every day. It also teaches me that the cloudless, clear sky sunrises are among the least interesting ones.
Yesterday morning was thickly gray. I glanced out the porch windows a few times and saw nothing but dreary grayness. When it was just about time to leave for work, I commented out loud to my husband, "Well, there's nothing to see out there this morning" - which in my world means that I saw no reason to go outside with my camera. But as soon as those words had slipped out of my mouth, I noticed a burst of color in my peripheral vision. I looked just in time to notice a huge, glowing ball-of-tangerine-sun rising above the bridge.
You just never know when moments like that will happen. All you can know is that they will...often when you least expect them.
Some days are gray, and you don't see the sun at all. Some winters seem endless. But the sun is still there, nonetheless, and people in other places will experience an astonishing sunrise or sunset when all we see is shades of gray. If they have the technology to share it, we can experience it, too. Or perhaps it will inspire them to create something of beauty and value to the world, such as a work of art or an act of kindness. When we are in darkness, just knowing there is more than this - and that this, too, shall pass - can help to get us through to the next spectacular sunrise or sunny day that brings greater inspiration, clarity, and energy to act.
There are periods of illumination, clarity, and inspiration and periods of waiting. Patience truly is a virtue, and sharing our inspired images, stories, and experiences may help to uplift others.
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