What brings your soul to life? How are you taking time to heal and be whole?
For me, what is essential is spending time outside in the early morning hours. Being awake at first light gives me sustenance and kindles my hope and joy. Those early morning hours are when I can best hear the Spotted Towhee scratching in the dry leaves and grasses beneath the Sumac as it repeats its buzzy trill che zheee, che zhee. They’re when I can most clearly listen to the Pacific Tree Frogs announcing the imminent arrival of rain. In the dawn hours, I can watch the stars fade and the firmament of sky move from violet-blue to pale silk blue
“Take the breath of the new dawn
and make it part of you.
It will give you strength.”
This Hopi prayer fills me with gratitude. I continue to learn what it is to live in the “new dawn,” to “take the breath” and allow the prana, the life force of the morning to flow through me. And in those moments, I remember that the universe is synchronistic, and that I am a part of the whole. In those moments, I am healing.
Healing is the process of remembering. Re-membering. In the English language, health, healing and holiness arise from the same linguistic root – hal – a word that embodies connection, salvation, completeness. Hale signifies “whole.”
One morning after the sun had risen, my partner and I were gifted to see a Great Horned Owl and an owlet (see accompanying photo). Archetypally a harbinger of visions and dreams, of luminous awareness of ‘tween times, the owl is a messenger of dawn. We’ve sent Owlet to many friends via email and they in turn have shared the photo with others – the owlet a reminder that yes, we are all connected.
Over the years, I have found that most people remember and reconnect with themselves in nature, through art and music, in relationship and in spiritual practices. For me, I am most authentically who I am in the moments before dawn. I offer my poem “Lightfastness” both as a poetic reflection and as an invitation to you to rise before the sun and spend some time listening to the earth, to all creation. Take the breath of the new dawn and make it part of you.
sap suffused with amber resin
it is too early for delicacy
web of wood spider
bracken fern, trillium
wing of great horned owl
leap of brook trout.
prays the rosary of constellations
listens for red fox
to tell her
it is morning.
Lightfastness, matins originally published in
Voicecatcher 2: Women writers
Portland, Oregon 2007
photo by Judy A. Rose
Gwendolyn Morgan learned the names of birds and plants from her grandmothers. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College, and a MDiv from San Francisco Theological Seminary, where she studied with Patricia and Kip many moons ago. She has been a recipient of writing residencies at Artsmith, Caldera and Soapstone and has poetry published in: Calyx, Kalliope, Manzanita Quarterly, Tributaries: a journal of nature writing, as well as other literary journals. She currently serves as the manager of interfaith Spiritual Care at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center. Gwen and Judy, her partner, share their Salmon Creek home with Abbey Skye, a rescued Pembroke Welsh Corgi.