Morning Has Broken, As Promised

What makes mornings so beautiful?

To me, it is the dewy scent that hangs in the air around the six o’clock hour.

It’s quiet but not deathly so. There’s almost no traffic on the roads and one can just about hear a few neighbours pottering about the house, getting ready for their day’s work. The ping of a toaster oven, the muffled clanging of cups, and the shifting of stools and unfolding of tables at the nearby coffeeshop.

Outdoors, the sky is a mixed hue of blue-black and orange as the sun peers over the horizon. And that dewy scent is more apparent. The air is still a little moist but crisp enough to remind me that it is early and not even the birds are fully awake.

It becomes light very quickly; so quickly that if I don’t make a conscious effort to savour the in-betweens – when the sky is still that blue-black with a tinge of orange – I feel as though I’ve ignored an important sensation. That of promise.

As the day breaks, I’m reminded of Mother Nature’s way of communicating this promise.

The promise of light at the end of a long dark tunnel; the promise of comfort to a restive sleep peppered with anxiety over work, finances or exams; the promise of hard work and determination actually paying off.

Yet, it is a promise that requires trust and an abdication of control to something bigger than we are.

My cat is the first sentient being that greets me each morning. His cries for food, a fresh bowl of water and a cuddle represent a promise kept by Mother Nature that she would see him through another night.

I go horseriding some mornings during the week. I don’t own a horse, but rely instead on the generosity of the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) to give me my dose of quality time with nature. As a volunteer with the RDA, I do this through riding, cleaning out the stables and grooming the horses.

Tobiana and I get ready for the morning. At the RDA (Photo: Vernon Leow)

The RDA, too, is a symbol of promise. It offers free riding therapy sessions to mentally and physically disabled children and adults. The horses – Mother Nature’s gift to mankind – give of themselves to the riders to improve the riders’ posture, confidence, and sense of independence and self-reliance. A promise that things can and do improve, with a little trust and one’s elbow grease.

The late Thomas Merton, one of my preferred authors and admired personalities, described this magical combination of trust and personal effort in a manner that aptly distills its essence. I believe it provides the perfect lyrical ending to this post:

“The first chirps of the waking day birds mark the ‘point vierge’ of the dawn under a sky as yet without real light, a moment of awe and inexpressible innocence, when the Father in perfect silence opens their eyes. They begin to speak to Him, not with fluent song, but with an awakening question that is their dawn state, their state at the ‘point vierge’. Their condition asks if it is time for them to ‘be’. He answers ‘yes’. Then, they one by one wake up, and become birds. They manifest themselves as birds, beginning to sing. Presently they will be fully themselves, and will even fly.” – From Merton’s book, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander.