Hail to the Morning
There will be something,
anguish or elation,
that is peculiar to this day alone.
I rise from sleep and say:
Hail to the morning!
Come down to me, my beautiful unknown.* —Jessica Powers
A beautiful sunrise can turn a typical morning into something mystical and mysterious. During a summer vacation at the New Jersey shore a few years back, I set my alarm every morning and ran down to the beach just before dawn to watch the sun break over the horizon. Every sunrise was different — some were bold and bodacious, with rays of orange touching everything in sight; some were subtle and simple, a perfect red orb inching slowly into the sky unfettered; some were surprising, with the sun disappearing midway into a patch of clouds only to transform into a “second” sunrise when it pushed through the layer of cartoon-like fluff; and some were barely noticeable, hidden behind a dense wall of white, somewhat disappointing and seemingly absent, except for the fact that I knew otherwise. But all of them were magnificent and worth the early wake-up.
It’s funny that when I’m at home during “regular” life, I almost never bother to watch the sunrise. If I catch a glimpse of color in the distance while I’m pouring my coffee, it may make my heart sing a bit, but mostly I take sunrise for granted, which is often the case for everyday life in general. Mornings begin with an alarm, a groan, a tap or two on the snooze button, and, eventually, the thud of feet on the floor in resignation.
Listening to the lyrical lines of “Hail to the Morning,” however, tinges that routine with a mystical glow that turns everything to light. What a gift to wake up to the world each day as the author describes, to accept that some days will bring sorrow and some joy but all are worthy of awe just the same.
Can we welcome, even beckon, the unknown, realizing there’s a chance it could contain some anguish? Can we open our eyes to each new day as if it is our own personal sunrise and watch with anticipation for what will unfold, gracious and grateful even if we get clouds instead of beams of light? Can we say yes, in imitation of Mary, and accept with a sense of faith and trust whatever God wants to send our way?
All of life is a “beautiful unknown,” although for most of us the human condition gets in the way of that gorgeous reality. We want elation, happiness, sunshine at all times, but God asks us to accept much more, and to recognize that joy is there even when it is cloaked beneath a dense cloud of struggle.
So shake off your slumber, and see how it feels to hail the morning unafraid.
This essay originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Give Us This Day. If you don’t have a subscription, click here for a free trial.