Sunday, November 10, 2013

Waking the Better Angels

Sunday Morning

For me, there is no more beautiful place on earth than here in the desert where I live. This is especially true in these late Autumn months of crisp cool nights and invigorating sun-drenched days.

Last evening was an exceptionally magnificent night in the desert. The moonlit starry night skies were more brilliant than ever, the air was pristine, the silence so thunderous. On nights like this I like to venture out a bit into the wilderness near my house. I always stay on a trail and never go far from home because, while night in the desert is wildly beautiful, it is also incredibly frightening out there. 

I walk along the trail at night with a deep sense of peace and a powerful awareness that I am part of something so much bigger than my own "self. " But at the same time,  I am also wary of my surroundings. I hear the night sounds of bats soaring through the desert skies. There is rustling in the nearby sagebrush-little creatures? more fierce beasts? snakes slithering along the sandy rocks?

My night walks into the wilderness always leave me with a lesson about the very nature of our human condition. Every one of us walks the wilderness of life comforted by our better angels and tormented by our wild beasts.

There is no such thing as a purely "good" or a purely "bad" human being - we are all a blend of light as well as darkness. Compassion, mercy, forgiveness, gentle acceptance, lightheartedness, hope, kindness: these are the better angeles of our nature. We walk the way of life and we also hear the sound of our night creatures - anger, lust, addiction, arrogance, domination, manipulation, judgement, prejudice, racism - always nipping at our spirit and threatening to destroy us.

This morning as I awoke at daybreak, the morning sky was filled with breathtakingly bright possibilities of a dawning new day. I thought about all the people all over the world waking up on a Sunday morning. Some today will go to church. Some will sit quietly and meditate. Some will spend the day with friends and family - brunches, lunches, family dinners. Some may spend this Sunday, coffee in hand, unhurriedly browsing through the weekend paper. 

There is just something about "Sunday" that sets this day off from other days - the first day of the week, a day of new beginnings and new possibilities. 

As I sat in my garden at daybreak and soaked in the prospects of a dawning new day. It struck me that Sunday is a day to "wake up" the better angels in our nature- a day to "wake up"those angels of compassion and tender mercy, forgiveness and loving kindness. 

Sunday-  a new week, a new day to acknowledge the darkness but to hold the brightness more dearly. 

When the better angels are awake, the beasts have little power to destroy us on the way.

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