This is a revised version of the blog posted about 45 minutes ago (10:15 am).
I go walking early in the morning before the breaking of the dawn. At this time of year it is still quite dark when I set out. On some of these intensely cold mornings I marvel at the beauty of the sky as the sun begins to rise and tints the clouds. Because I’m bundled up against the cold, I often don’t notice the change in the sky until I see glorious colours reflected in the windows of apartment buildings far in the distance.
When I do notice the breaking dawn, I stop and turn towards the light and my heart starts singing, “When morning gilds the skies, my heart, awakening cries: ‘May Jesus Christ be praised!’ ” Even these few weeks past the Winter Solstice, the change in light, the change in the length of days is noticeable. Each day the light rises a little earlier and the sun sets just a little bit later. So I ponder, what breaking dawn is bringing some light to in my life in community? What acts of love and kindness have I noticed each day that I live this monastic life? Do I recognize beauty with the eyes of my heart as I look for the light of Christ in all those with whom I live?
Some mornings the sky is cloudy as I set out and yet, these are often the mornings that the sun lights up the clouds with great intensity as it peeks through. The vivid colours are shown in sharp contrast to the dull grey of the clouds. It’s funny that on clear days, the light seems more diffuse and not as brilliant so I’m less likely to notice when the sun begins to colour the sky. Perhaps that’s like my life in community. Mostly I don’t really notice that I feel that sense of well-being and contentment with my life; its simply a diffuse feeling and yet lights my life. The light is more noticeable, I suppose, when seen in stark contrast to challenges or difficulties in my life; noticed only from a distance when I take time to reflect back on the day. Then I’m more likely to notice the glory of God shining through my life.
One of the beauties of living in community is seeing how the light breaks through in others’ lives as they work through and weather challenges in their own lives. It is easier to see the beauty which breaks forth in others’ lives as they are slowly transformed by the Holy Spirit; harder to see in our own. We recognize our own transformation only in the distance, as it were, by reflecting back on our lives. When we take that time to stop and turn, we suddenly see the light which is all around us. Seeing others in community growing in inner beauty as they grow in the gifts of the Spirit gives me renewed hope that my own issues and struggles are also being transformed by the working of the Holy Spirit.
The beauty I see in the sky makes me hope that the light and beauty of our faith too will grow each and every day to lighten and illumine the darkness in the world around us. I pray as I walk, letting my footsteps beat a rhythm to carry the words. And I vision my prayer as trailing a blessing of peace across and through my neighbourhood as I walk. I smile at those whom I encounter hoping that they may see the light I carry within me breaking through. Although you may not get up as early as I do to walk and pray, may you still be a blessing of peace and breaking dawn in your inner being and to all those you encounter each day.
When morning gilds the skies,
My heart awaking cries:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Alike at work and prayer,
To Jesus I repair; May Jesus Christ be praised!
Be this, while life is mine,
My song of love divine:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Sing this eternal song
Through all the ages long: May Jesus Christ be praised!
(Text from Katolisches Gesangbuch, Wurzburg, 1828, trans. Edward Caswall)
Sister Elizabeth Ann Eckert