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The Inspiration of Sunrise Can Ignite Our Lives Each Day

+ Von Del Chamberlain +

Copy for March 11, 1998

March is the month of dramatic growing light in the northern hemisphere. Every single day is noticeably longer and brighter. Yes, weather is variable, but invariably warmer as the days pass. Earth has reached the point in its orbit where northern climes are most rapidly turning sunward. As the ground warms, life responds in a glorious profusion of color: Mother Earth changes clothing--skirt of green decked with flowers in all hues of the rainbow.

Each sunrise comes earlier and the Sun remains in our sky longer, reminding us of the significance of light in our lives. Sunrise! What a magnificent event to help us celebrate living each and every day.

Have you ever really observed a sunrise? Of course you have seen the Sun rise, but have you fully focused attention to the entire phenomenon of sunrise? Few people have. Of the billions who live upon Earth, it is rare that anyone attends to the complete range of changes composing sunrise. It takes a lot of time and considerable concentration, but is worth the effort.

Wholistic observation of sunrise begins at the moment of greatest darkness, midway between sunset and sunrise, hours before the Sun will emerge from the horizon. Overhead stars blaze on the velvet night; the Milky Way cleaves the sky. Then, ever so slowly, darkness begins to wane. At first it is very difficult to notice any change, but after a while stars begin to fade as whiteness creeps up the sky in the east. Softly it comes in, growing all the while. It is the breath of Father Sun gently blowing the atmospheric garments of Mother Earth. A period of innumerable changes begins.

The intensity of whiteness grows so slowly: meekly, weakly, mildly, then more strongly, increasing over hours of time to eventually become a crescendo of brightness. The white light of dawn washes the canvas of the sky, preparing it for colors soon to follow. Low on the horizon a touch of orange becomes perceptible. Higher, color becomes more evident, white migrating to yellows, then blending into reds, depending on the texture of the sky. Moisture, dust and clouds govern the exact pigments on the celestial canvas. Finally the sky glows as if on fire.

Observation of a sunrise is not just scrutiny of light. The temperature of the air changes; breezes, even winds, develop; moisture condenses on leaves and rocks; and the voices of life rise up in the most glorious symphony ever performed. Birds sing melodies amid rustling leaves. A pack of coyotes bark, dogs join in, a pair of ravens fly along the canyon rim, cawing in the day. A rooster crows. Today, other sounds are heard: garage doors open, engines start up, human voices call out, and the roar of traffic builds along ribbons of asphalt. Airplanes roar into the sky. The pleasant perfume of morning moisture and the sounds of life are both powered by the Sun. Yes, we can hear, smell and feel the sunrise.

Continuing to watch toward the east, the intensity of light builds, then brilliance flares as the Sun makes its entrance into our lives. The volume of sound, color and energy expressed in that one tiny moment is unmatched. The solar disk clearing the horizon shouts volumes about what it means to be alive. Living things are delicate expressions of relationships between Earth and Sun, between chemicals and energy, between atoms and fundamental forces of the universe. Combinations of hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and other elements, arranged into patterns and grouped into forms endowed with the ability to grow and reproduce are able to absorb radiation flowing from the Sun. Photosynthesis feeds us through the food chain. A planet glides through space at just the right distance from a star of just the right dimension and temperature, and on the surface a choir of living entities in a myriad of sizes and variations sing songs that celebrate the wedlock of light and matter. Life feeds on stellar energy, modulated through air and manipulated through physical and chemical structures.

It has been said that a human being is an atoms way of knowing atoms, a stars way of studying stars, and one example of the universe being able to contemplate itself. How wondrous it is to be aware, to be able to look around, to think, to ask a question and find an answer. More than a thousand years ago Posidonius referred to Man as "the beholder and expounder of heaven." Through human inquiry mythological interpretations have matured into scientific explanations.

Perhaps nothing we commonly observe is more symbolic, more infused with meaning, than is the moment of the rising Sun. It is the Greek Helios opening the portals of the day. It is the Egyptian Ra flooding the Nile Valley. It is the Pueblo Sun Father blessing fields and villages. It is thermonuclear energy welling up form the core of a star, then radiating through space to flow into a terrestrial blanket of air. It is the energy of the exploding universe transformed into intelligence striving to comprehend reality.

A star shines near us. Its wave of light sweeps constantly round the earth, bringing in its wake a flurry of activity, engulfing us with power to charge our lives. The Sun is always rising somewhere, awakening life, igniting motion, spawning work and play. Have you ever REALLY observed the sunrise? Why not take a break from routine activity, go into the dead of night onto a hilltop, attune all your senses to the transition of night into day, and experience one of the most common, yet most inspirational and miraculous of all phenomena in the vast universe. Sunrise!

Copyright 1999-2002 The Clark Foundation.
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