“Keep your face always toward the Sunshine… and shadows will fall behind you.”
– Walt Whitman
I cannot remember the exact day I began to rise daily with the sun. I cannot for the life of me recall if it began to happen by chance or if I set an intentional alarm to do so. But, for some time now, I wake up every morning and my eyes long to see the sun rising in the front fields of our home.
I have a vivid memory of being in high school and sitting on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico with one of my best girlfriends just at sunrise. Neither one of us could sleep. We were young teenagers, eager to graduate and move on to bigger and mightier things. We sat still in camp chairs, water flowing over our feet along with a perfect salty breeze. The sun came up over us, a stillness and sweetness of time I’ll never forget.
I remember in college at Auburn, rising early with coffee to study for a test I had at 9 a.m. I remember the sun, for its rising was too early for me. But it saw me and tugged at me and allowed me to move one foot forward.
I remember the first weekend I spent in Gold Hill while dating a wild farm boy. He was never really my type, too random and so far from the ordinary. He woke that day at sunrise like a jackrabbit. I remember thinking, “Who does this? Who gets up this early all vibrant and for no apparent reason at all?” The sun found me that morning in Gold Hill, almost like a game of hide and seek.
I remember the day following our wedding years later. We were freezing cold in a November morning, stowed away at a lake house made completely of rock with no heat. None. The sun began to rise and the wild farm boy went outside with an ax to chop wood. My teeth chattered as the sun peeped in between woods and water. “Who anticipates this dream the day after their wedding?” I said to myself with much sarcasm. The sun saw us both, together. The first of thousands of days ahead.
I recall my first morning at home alone with my newborn baby boy, Braxton. He knew nothing of the sun and he knew nothing of me. Yet together we grew. We rose together with the sun for days and weeks and months, until one day we didn’t. For no one counts the wee days of newborn life, because we long for the next phase of pleasant sleeping. But the sun saw us and kissed us every morning, reminding us, we were both in this new journey of life together.
The sun rose with two more children. It rose with farm life and adventure as we watched babies turn into toddlers and then grow into Kindergarten in a matter of seconds.
Years later, I remember waking to see the sunrise my last day on mission in Honduras. We watched the sun come up over vast green space, sprinkled with palm trees and the most beautiful copper tone orphanage. I remember being sad to leave yet longing to see my own children that were sleeping underneath the same big sun. The sun called me back home that day, for my best work was there, amid my own little ones that call me “momma”.
Ever since that Honduran morning, there has been a tug of sorts, a force, pulling me to the sun every day. I feel like a woman drawing water from an old well to cool off and so, I rise up in the wee morning hours and walk outside to see this thing my soul longs for.
Every year, it gets stronger and stronger. The more I see this great thing set before me, the more I want to show up. What is this I wonder? What is this need and this longing to see such things that are so much bigger than little me?
I stand in the dusk of my yard and stare in awe at the glory set before me. The sky is filled with color and vast joy and it fills my heart with gladness. The sun has seen me. The Lord has seen me too and I am here. Again and again and again. It is a new day and I will walk in it fully.
The sunrise is an ever-present reminder that a new day will begin. Beauty is in our midst. Light does come after darkness. God is here. And God does make beautiful things out of dust.
How long has it been since you’ve seen the sunrise? I encourage you to go and see. You will be filled and the Lord will meet you there.
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices… for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant…”