Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Dakota Sunrise

Good Morning.

Just before 7 am yesterday, I left the house in a rush. Extra strong coffee in my extra large mug, frazzled and hurried, too many things to do and not enough time to do them.

As I rounded a corner on our gravel road, I came face to face with a stunning winter scene. The gentle pink glow of early sunrise peeked through the clouds, just a hint of the the beauty to come.

At first, I had to fight the impulse to plow ahead with the plan for my morning... I had places to go and things to do!

But, calm prevailed. I stopped driving, and stepped out into the crisp, silent winter morning to take a picture. I sipped my coffee, warming my bare hands on the hot mug. I watched as the pink glow became soft orange.

Drawn into the beauty, I drove a little further to find a better vantage point for my pictures. I watched with wonder, as the sun rose above the snowy horizon, its rays illuminating the farms and pastures on the horizon. The orange glow intensified, and a fiery ball appeared for just a minute.

It happened too quickly. Before I knew it, the beautiful sunrise was over, and the scene became ordinary again. A pale yellow glow remained, and the sun was hidden behind the thick clouds.
I considered the difference between a sunrise and a sunset. A sunrise holds the promise of things to come. Like the first page of a new book, or the first stitch in a quilt, a sunrise is full of delight and hidden potential. A new beginning... a fresh start... a time of rebirth.

The sunrise reminded me of how fleeting some experiences can be. Some of the most precious gifts in life are very transient, and we don't always get a second chance to seize the moment. Each day, many blessings,opportunities and choices are available to us, but it is our choice whether we embrace or ignore them.

I was reminded of a happy childhood memory. My dad, a notorious "morning person", always rose long before dawn. When we made our occasional family shopping trip from Milk River, Alberta to Great Falls, Montana, he insisted we get an early start. This meant leaving in the dark. I'd start the trip grumpy, tired, cold, and hungry, and usually sleep the first hour or so. But, Dad always woke me up so I could watch the sunrise over the Sweetgrass Mountains. We'd watch in silence as we drove along, enjoying the beautiful sight.

Then, we'd stop in Conrad, Montana, at a bustling cafe for breakfast. I'd savor every bite of a homemade caramel roll, still warm from the oven, and a tall glass of icy cold milk. The place would be packed with farmers, ranchers, and the early "coffee crowd". I was always amazed at how many people were up and around at that early hour. Dad would remind me that many of the people had probably put in a few hours of work by that time, and jokingly say "for some of them, the day's half over by now".

I spent a few minutes reflecting and remembering, before I put the SUV in gear, and drove toward town. I noticed with surprise that I wasn't nearly as late as I thought I would be.
My sunrise experience had a lasting effect. I felt calm and collected the entire day, and accomplished everything on my "to do list" and more.