Early Morning Awe!

Morning walk in the back yard

Many mornings these days I wake between 4:30 and 5:30. I sit up with my legs over the side of the bed, hands on my thighs just above the knees and pause. Breathe.

I rise, put on my morning uniform – socks, slippers, flannel shirt from Dollar General (there is a story there, perhaps for a later time!) and sweatpants. I move quietly so as not to disturb Alessandra and I make my way into the kitchen. Drink a glass of bubbly water and make coffee.

I will often retreat (and it is a retreat) to our back deck and stand at the railing. Breathe. Watch. Listen. The early morning music is fascinating. It is filled with lovely, and at times a bit of dissonance. The music wends its way through the trees and the grasses and becomes a symphony. The music is full of high- and low-pitched sounds and notes. The greatest and most prolific sounds of the mornings are the many varieties of bird calls and songs. Loud and soft. Short and long. There is rustling and scrunching of leaves and branches – deer, squirrel, birds, bear? I sit now and wait. Breathe.

The front porch offers additional sounds and sights as the day begins to dawn. There I hear the nearby rooster as he declares in his raw crowing the beginning of the new day. The low mooing of the cows across the street signifies continuing life and the occasional car or truck will whizz along. Being in a rural area the driver is likely going to work as a landscaper, tree surgeon, forestry worker, farm hand or just getting an early start on the journey to Charlottesville and work. All are signs and sounds of Life! Life which contributes to the Universal Body of the new day.  Breathe.

There are silent spaces between the notes of the bird calls, mooing and forest rustles. A resting of sorts. A pondering. Breathe. The morning is ever moving and with it comes my growing ability to see the shadows of the trees in our forest, the shed and the peach and apple trees in the garden. There is the half-filled moon drifting among the treetops. The early sun breaks through the trees and announces – It is Here, the new day is Here! A joyful smile begins to shape my face. Breathe. Laugh.

Life of one kind or other calls to me and to the day. It is immensely beautiful and mysterious for which I am grateful.

My thoughts do ramble and rumble – how did the peach and apple trees survive the chilly night? How are my newly planted broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower doing? When should I plant my tomato plants? How are my kids in California, still snoozing I hope and getting rest for the new day which will dawn on them in a few hours. I miss them. I think of my Dad and Mother. I miss them. My brother and sister. I miss them too. How are we doing in this time of shelter in place? How are the grandkids doing? I miss them also. How might we gain insight and harmony from this pandemic. Can we learn something of goodness here? I think about how grateful I am to be here in this house, with Alessandra and my Call to God. Whew! so many thoughts. I sit. Breathe. Center.

I ponder who I am in this mixture of thoughts, sounds, sights, smells and touch.

From somewhere in my mind and heart the thought of being a molecule enters my rambling mind. Small yet substantial. I am not sure where the image of a molecule surfaced. Something I read? The molecule that I am is floating in an immensely large Body! Brought into being by the explosion of Love and Beauty and Mystery! So long ago it is not possible for me to even imagine. The writers of the first chapter of Genesis were able to draw a picture of this immense, powerful, and scared time. The Spirit hovering over the waters and the earth. Hovering – what a delightful and comforting image. The image of God, the Creator is in me and you! A spark from the beginning.

Molecules, though tiny are an incredibly significant part of creating a whole. Molecules are interconnected with other molecules which provide a structure, a foundation for Life. The connection between molecules is vital. They each give and receive from the other molecules. They are building blocks for Life. Constantly in motion, in varying speeds and of rest.

I am a part of the ‘Universal Christ’ as Richard Rohr has named this phenomenon. Christ (anointed) is the title Christians have given Jesus for almost two millennium. A pretty short period when looked at from the vantage of the genesis of Life.

The message of Jesus is universal and embraces all peoples regardless of religion, ethnicity and so forth. Wonderful, sacred, and astounding message and messenger. Yet he is a molecule as I am. And so are the Buddha, the Prophet, Tilden Edwards, Howard Thurman, my Dad, and my Mom. It goes on and on. The Universal Christ is filled with living, breathing, contributing molecules. For are we not all anointed by the God of Love? Are we not all sons and daughters of the Creation carrying the image and breath of the Creator?

I am not suggesting that I am the same as the giant molecules of Abraham, Sarah, Esther, Haggar, Moses, Jesus, the Buddha, Thich Nhat Hanh or the Prophet, but I share with them the richness of life, the connection they have with others, who are growing, breathing and transforming lives of great worth.

I am a molecule in the Body of Christ. I swim and meet and am enriched by other molecules. In the Body, are cancerous, molecules that have lost their way, their purpose. There are ways to guard against these molecules which hurt body, mind, and soul, yet these ways need each of us to work and breath together in community. There is so much mistrust which ironically is fostered by the very religions in which are born. At times I think our ‘sacred texts’ get in the way. We are in need of mindful, pause-filled, thoughtful, care-full, kind-filled, awe-filled, and beauty-filled people. Even Moses, Miriam, Esther, Micah, Isaiah, Jesus, and the Buddha could not ward off all the cancerous, lost molecules and cells. Where shall I go, to whom shall I listen?

In my Judaeo-Christian upbringing the Hebrew Prophets called to those who would listen and to those who did not listen. Some saw the perils of continuing ‘normalcy’. Jesus as Prophet or Savior reaches many people and yet a cancer of evil poses peril to our beautiful existence. The Prophet, who tried to bring the peoples of Ishmael together in community through obedience and surrender to God has not reached all peoples hearts and minds.

Division and strife. Lord Krishna called a king to his palace, we shall name him ‘hard hearted’. Lord Krishna told Hard-Hearted to go out into the world and find one good man. Hard-Hearted went out and for a year traveled the land and could not find one good man. All men are greedy and selfish he reports. Lord Krishna then asked another king to come to the Palace. We shall call this king ‘Kind-Hearted’. Lord Krishna told him to travel the world and find one evil man. Kind-Hearted went about the world for a year and reported to Lord Krishna that he could not find any truly evil man. There were many who were lost, grieving, made mistakes and wrong turns, but Kind-Hearted reported there is not evil lurking inside these men and women. Though many are misled and misguided, there is no inherent evil with them. [1]

I know these people. I am one of these people. I can be Hard-Hearted and Kind-Hearted. But, I strive to find those of good heart. I strive to feed myself with the food of the Prophets, of Jesus, of the Buddha and so many others as I swim with and interact with other molecules great and small to enrich and be enriched by goodness of heart and make the Body whole or at least bring promise and hope within the Universal Christ who moves and rests on earth and in me.

Thich Nhat Hanh, in his book, Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, begins his first chapter in this way – “Every morning, when we wake up, we have twenty-four brand new hours to live. What a precious gift! We have the capacity to live in a way that these twenty-four hours will bring peace, joy, and happiness to ourselves and others.” The gift of Life!

OK, all you molecules! Let the day emerge in Awe and Wonder!  The Beauty is here! Amen.

[1] Based on the story from John Shea’s book, The Legend of the Bells and other Tales: Stories of the Human Spirit. My rendition is noticeably short as I have tried to summarize the story.

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