Saturday, January 19, 2013


The sunrise today brought a little gasp. I cooked some sausage for breakfast and opened the front door to let the smoke out and there it was, an artist’s canvas stretched from the hardwoods to the pines with turquoise, pink, orange and red streaks and bursts and swells, the sun itself smiling itself into view. Slack-jawed, I stood thinking there has never been another sunrise like this and there will never be another. Everyone who saw the heavenly painting knew it was a sunrise, knew the name of the thing, but this specific, unique one, being born before our eyes, was the first and the last, the Alpha and Omega.

The art produced in this morning’s sky will never reside in a museum, though it was a masterpiece. It will never bring millions of dollars at an auction, though it was a perfect composition, the epitome of chromatic harmony. And, sadly, it will never be seen again. Even if someone photographed it, that kind of holy art cannot exist in any form but its own. It was a work in progress, allowing onlookers to watch the work being accomplished slowly and methodically, only to fade away with day.

That sunrise was valuable for its beauty but also for its transience. Things are precious because they are temporary. One reason I like living in Arkansas is the change of seasons. We lived in the perpetual summer of south Florida for a long time and I felt a certain discontent down there. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until one Christmas when we were visiting relatives in Mt. Holly I realized, it’s the seasons. The temporariness of winter, spring, summer and fall make them precious. I even had trouble keeping track of what month it was down in West Palm Beach.

The first year we lived down there, on my 55th birthday, December 19, I was out with friends in a boat fishing the reefs. It was 85 degrees and sunny. I said to one of my buddies, “This is the longest summer I have ever experienced.” He replied, “It ain’t over yet, Dan.” And he was right. Oh, we had a few chilly mornings in February, but it warmed way up during the day. No, the weather wasn’t boring, because we had seasons of torrential rains and periodic hurricane threats. But it was hot all the time.

The sunrise over the ocean was beautiful and even the sunset somehow reflected in the eastern sky. And I did ponder the uniqueness of these phenomena and I did appreciate the artistry. But there was something very special about the winter sunrise I was privileged to witness this morning. Maybe it was the warm colors against the frigid sky. Maybe it was the surprise of heart-warming beauty on a cold morning. Whatever it was that made it special, I appreciate it deeply and, as the poet Sara Teasdale said about the stars, “I know that I am honored to be, witness of such majesty.”

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