Secrets at Dawn

Panoramic photo of sunrise from the Loop Trail at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, 9/28/2021

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don’t go back to sleep.


These lines from one of Rumi’s poems came to mind when we were hiking recently at one of our favorite places. It had taken a little effort to get out of bed at 5:00 AM and drive to Enchanted Rock to see the sunrise.

But the views were worth it as the light changed. I’d never before visited that place at sunrise.

The morning felt enough out of the ordinary for me to be awake and mindfully present in the moments of that particular dawn. Those minutes were embued with a special light; we had consciously chosen that time to be in that place. So it was easy to pay attention right then.

Rumi suggests though, that we do something more than only awakening: “Don’t go back to sleep.”

In Thornton Wilder’s timeless play Our Town, which celebrates the importance of the ordinary moments of our lives, Emily asks the all-knowing Stage Manager, “Do any human beings realize life as they live it…every, every minute?” The reply: “No. Saints and poets maybe…they do some.”

I’m not a saint, it’s pretty rare that I write a poem, and I don’t think I’m capable of realizing life as I live it each minute. Perhaps the best I can hope for is to do it “some” by practicing wonder in my own way.

Mary Oliver, one of my favorite poets, often conveys complex ideas with surprising simplicity. Her poems brim with images from nature and with compelling gratitude. She has secrets to tell us about staying a bit more awake:

It doesn’t have to be

the blue iris, it could be

weeds in a vacant lot or a few

small stones; just

pay attention . . .


Writing Practice:

Write about something that drew your attention in the past day or two.

What lines of poetry or quotes pop into your head at times? What do they mean to you?

3 thoughts on “Secrets at Dawn

  1. Thanks, Chris, for the beautiful photos and wise words. Just this morning during my very slow jog in Kerrville-Schreiner Park, I stopped in the early morning light to observe the 20 or so wild turkeys in the meadow. I laughed softly to myself as I watched them trot here and there, evidently enjoying a feast of insects in the newly-green grass after our blessed rains earlier this week. I’ve been fortunate to see twice that many in this meadow over the past few weeks, always marveling at their abundance and easily-made sightings this fall. So grateful for the wonder in my life!

  2. Rev Philip Shulman begins Services at our Unitarian church by calling in nature and asks people to volunteer some thing they noticed during the week. It’s really wonderful to hear peoples observations. Everything from a cloud to a bird to a special insect encounter.

  3. This is good stuff–I look forward to following your blog. As I mentioned about Gilgamesh, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, a hard lesson for people to learn is the wonder of the ordinary. (I too love Mary Oliver. “The Summer Day” is one of my favorite poems.)

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