by Neal Lemery
I am again learning to cherish the darkness and the quiet of the early morning. I often struggle with the early darkness of the evening and the late-rising sun of November mornings, when late fall and winter descend upon my life like a thick black curtain. Part of me yearns for the summers past and look eagerly ahead to next year’s spring. Yet, now is a time to again learn patience and self-awareness, and self-care. There is that lesson again, to live in the moment, and to be and do for today, for the present.
One of my projects is to check my fancy rain gauge every morning, and then report my reading to a little Colorado non-profit which collects daily precipitation readings across the US and Canada, with data available to the National Weather Service and the public. Yes, there’s an app for that, and the data helps in weather forecasting and in monitoring rain and snowfall across the continent. Checking my rain gauge and filing my report has become part of my morning coffee routine, my reading, the sometimes inspirations for writing and contemplation, taking up the brewing time for my first cup.
That ritual, and feeling part of a greater effort to study the world, has become engrained in my morning routines. I find this to be almost a meditation, a predicable part of starting the day with doing something for the common good. I get my barefooted self outside, connected with the neighborhood, and the goings on of nature in my back yard. I’m more aware of my world, and perhaps help others understand the forces of nature at work. The day’s rain in the gauge, birds on the feeder and the first glimmer of the dawn remind me I am part of the world, part of this place, that I am connected with the web of life and the world.
The quiet fills the space, as I sip my coffee, allowing the day to emerge in creative possibility and wonder. I hold space for the coming day, for the tasks I’ve written on my list and the others that will come unexpectedly. I am learning to respect the power of serendipity, of the opportunities of empty space. I hold that space for myself, to learn and grow. I hold space for the emergence of the new that will come. I will allow all of that to come into my life, to feed my soul with possibility.
I’ll read the news, and perhaps become engrossed in a well-written and thoughtful commentary. And maybe I’ll contemplate something creative, a poem, a garden project, a letter to a friend, perhaps a painting, or some writing that will emerge within the sacred emptiness I’ve made in the early morning.
The darkness and the quiet allows me to fully embrace that sense of appreciation and gratitude for what I value in life: friendships, beauty, and the ability to expand and cultivate those ideas and values I truly find essential to a full, bountiful life.
I’m grateful for the holidays, each one focusing on a particular value and cultural ideal that is a fundamental element of our lives: giving thanks, sharing, finding joy, noting anniversaries of celebrations and past events. It is a time of reflection, of being aware, again, that life is a gift and an opportunity to both love and to share our deepest, most fundamental values and beliefs. The holidays remind me to put the daily frenzy on pause, to take a breath, and just “be”.
The brewing of the coffee, the checking of the rain gauge, the examination of the “to do” list as a focus of opportunity and personal growth, all are part of the beginning of the day, a time of quiet and reflection, organizing myself for the work that is to come, for the rejuvenation of the real me in the winter of the year.