I find it difficult to listen to the needs of the heart during the day. All the chattering of the mind. All the clutter of to-do lists. All the weight of responsibility.
But dawn . . . well that is a very different story . . .
A brush of light the size of a thimble is wedged in the valley between two ragged mountains spattered with snow. Steel gray clouds conceal the peaks, pressing against the flicker of light and shielding the desert from the first glow of sunrise. There is no softness in these clouds, no puffy balls of cotton. Ominous, seemingly impenetrable, they remind me of a fog bank rolling across Lake Michigan. A damp mist that blinds.
Puddles formed by an earlier rain are hidden by the lingering darkness of night. One misstep and icy water douses my feet as I jog alongside the rough outline of cactus, mesquite trees, and the prickly vegetation of the desert.
I run towards my favorite cul de sac, an isolated spot surrounded by an untamed desert wash stretching towards Tucson. I am told the monsoon rains create rivers gushing through this channel of wild flora painted with a palette of umber, beige, pea green, and charcoal gray. But it is winter and the rains are fleeting, intense enough to create small puddles on asphalt, nothing on parched sand.
It is here, midway through my morning jog, that I pause and listen to the calls of unfamiliar birds greeting the dawn. The sounds accompanying the pink spray of sunrise splashing above the mountains touch some deep chord within me, inspiring the quiet voice of my heart to speak. And while this morning’s eastern skies are blanketed in dark clouds, I hear the first chatter of the birds and feel a slight flutter of joy.
The thimble grows brighter, a golden hue replacing a pale lemon patch. Yet neither mountains nor clouds retreat. Hard lines of irreverence. The sun refuses to be ignored and pours its strength into the tiny thimble until the thimble overflows with bright pink ripples spilling out to the skies. Like a hearty laugh, dawn refuses to be contained.
Like a hearty laugh . . .How long has it been since I felt my stomach contract with such a laugh? Felt contagious laughter build with such intensity every muscle is shaking and I am doubled-over, helplessly clasping my sides while tears stream down my face? When was the last time I really laughed?
Thin waves of light now the color of salmon penetrate the suffocating mass of gray. They divide the front into layers of clouds, some intense streaks of deep violet, others softening with the warmth of dawn. Softening with the delight of laughter.
Softening . . . with the delight . . . of laughter.
I pray the ribbons of light charm the tightness of my muscles and teach me again to laugh. Uncontrollably. Until every cell of my body is pulsating with glee. Until the walls I’ve spent a lifetime building are penetrated and I can again hear the exuberant voice of my heart.
It is a new day and I am hopeful.
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