"Sunrise on a Winter Morn"
-the view from my meditation garden-
The winter months are exquisitely beautiful here in the desert. I go into my garden at dawn, the fountain bubbles as I sit in the crisp, clear morning air. There are some clouds in the winter sky reflecting the amber rays of the growing light. It is so majestic and so tender that it reduces me to humble silence and calls out the poetry in my soul.
Throughout the daytime hours, especially in the afternoon, the stone mountains will glow so brightly in the winter sun that, at times, I will have to shield my eyes when looking directly at them.
And then will come the "gloaming" time of day - that moment just after the sun goes down but before the dusk actually sets in.
In the desert, the "gloaming" in winter is truly a magical time. It lasts only about 3 or 4 minutes; yet I often make sure to spend this time outdoors, usually alone, walking a nearby trail- my camera in hand.
Since we live in a valley, we are surrounded by mountains. Just after the sun sets, the winter skies over the mountains are transformed into shades of gold and crimson - the entire valley is bathed in celestial light, and for those few moments of the "gloaming," it seems as if the earth stands still - the silence so profound.
It almost seems sacrilegious to just stand there or walk along when that mystical moment of the "gloaming" sets on. I want to kneel down or take off my shoes. The beauty is excruciating - so intense as to almost be painful.
In his book, "Beauty," poet and author John O'Donohue once wrote:
The word for 'beautiful' comes from the Greek word 'to call.'
When we experience beauty, we feel called.
The Beautiful stirs passion and urgency in us and calls us forth from aloneness
into the warmth and wonder of an eternal embrace.
It unites us again with the neglected and forgotten grandeur of life.
We have lived (full time) out here in the desert for one year now. As I sit in my garden in the rays of the sun on this winter morning, I am struck by the fact of how my immersion in the everyday beauty of this magnificent desert has literally made me a different person than I was a year ago.
Everywhere I look at every minute of every day I am being called out by beauty. It has stirred up a poetry and a passion in me that I never knew was there before. It has indeed united me and connected me with a grandeur of life that I had sorely neglected in the past.
Over the past year I have been on a "soul food" diet.
I wonder if the reason so many people feel lost and dead-ended nowadays is because they eat too much spiritual junk food everyday and don't have enough soul food in their diets.
You don't have to move out into a desert to find beauty or to feed your soul.
Many people wake up every morning and throughout the day they remain oblivious to the revelations and the mystery and the beauty of every present moment. They bury their heads in a paper or in a computer screen, gobble down some food, rush off to work or school, accomplish the day's tasks, then home again, bed and then another day of "grinding out" life. And all along, all around them beauty is calling out- in every moment, beauty is calling out.
Beauty calls out in the crystals of ice sparkling on the window pane of a frigid winter day. Beauty calls out in that morning sun, avoided and shielded because it is an annoyance on the ride to work. Beauty is calling out in great works of art, in symphonies and songs, in poetry and verse never seen or heard - relegated to unvisited art museums, unattended symphony halls, unread books, because we are too busy to stop and take it in.
Beauty calls out in the voices and faces of every single person we encounter in every single moment of every single day - often ignored, unheard or unseen because our minds are too preoccupied with the past or oriented to the future to pay any attention to beauty's invitation.
The world is full of soul food and instead far too many of us are intent to wither away in spirit, "wolfing down" the junk food of everyday life.
On this January morning my spirit is being fed, and how I yearn for more.
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