Sunday, February 15, 2009
Sunday morning. But not yet a “sun” day—though by the look of things, that’s what will soon occur. For now, however, it is still dark, still early, with only a faint glow to the east and a wash of stars overhead. I send the dog out with an admonition to stay in the yard. Then I head back into the kitchen and make a pot of coffee—the first coffee I’ve made in several weeks. For whatever reason, I shift between coffee and tea as my morning drink, sometimes alternating back and forth almost daily, though usually staying with one or the other for a week or two before switching back. This seemed like a coffee morning. It takes only a few minutes to boil a kettle of water, pour it over the ground coffee, wait the proper time, and push the plunger in the French press. Between these small tasks I kept peering out the front-room window, keeping tabs on both the dog and the dawn; the former uncharacteristically followed my orders, the latter heeded only the effects of planetary rotation. With mug of hot coffee in hand, I stepped outside, onto the deck. Cold, a brisk 22-degrees according to the thermometer by the front door. The half-disc moon, bright and silvery, was sneaking westward through the skeletal tops of the sycamores across the river. The river itself, down a couple of feet from a few days ago, was an opaque greenish-brown in the burgeoning light. I checked the seed feeders, and suet cadges—full enough—then dipped a scoop of cracked corn from the bin on the deck, and scattered this golden breakfast out for the sparrows and doves and cardinals that I knew would soon be arriving. A lone Canada goose came hustling downriver, honking loudly with every wingbeat. I’d heard a flock of geese go over while I was making my coffee. Perhaps this straggler simply overslept and missed the pre-dawn departure flight with his buddies. In my experience, there’s usually one invariably tardy member of any group—whether we’re talking people or geese. The sun was up now and starting to varnish the ranks of leaning sycamores along the river. This wasn’t one of those spectacularly colorful dawns, where the eastern sky is filled with pink and orange, purple and turquoise, and a dozen hues in between; just the ordinary miracle of another morning, one more day in our unknown allotment, a day to use as we see fit. Nevertheless, all days and dawns are special, and the white-barked sycamore trunks and crowns glowed a rich gold in the new-born light, a victory gift of light over darkness. The light had stirred the birds. Titmice were whistling, and cardinals. Several nuthatches were already on the big box elder by the front door, yank-yanking in nasal glee. A Carolina wren was tuning up from the cedar thicket. The feeders began serving their first customers. Sunday mornings seem especially holy to me. I grew up in a church-going family, and we went to services every Sunday morning. I don’t go as often nowadays as I should…and I not only feel guilty about that lapse, but I miss it when I fail to attend. I love the old hymns. Love the quiet warmth of prayer, and the message of hope eternal in the sermon. I love just being in the sacred space of the building itself. Life is such a wondrous gift, even when things are hard and we’re struggling with pains and troubles. Each new day is precious. I know this every time I stand on my little piece of riverbank and watch the sparkle of morning light on the water, or see the golden sun reflecting off the sycamores. My own heart soars with the traveling geese and sings with the bright music of dawn’s birds. I am so very blessed. So I say this before Almighty God, as deeply and honestly as I know how, fully aware that I'm unworthy of such treasures, grateful and humbled almost to tears…thank you.