By Jim Tune
“Morning has broken, like the first morning . . .” —words by Eleanor Farjeon, popularized in song by Cat Stevens.
Whatever time of day you may be reading this, a new morning is on its way. There is magic in this daily re-creation of ourselves. Hope, opportunity, light, a blank page.
I love mornings. That doesn’t mean I am a morning person. Winter mornings in Canada do not begin with light. It’s still dark when I get up. Still, there’s something about a new day dawning.
In the monastic era, the hours of the morning carried the Latin name prime, a time when the day was planned, and work was assigned and begun. For many of us this truly is a prime time. Our bodies awaken refreshed and renewed. Our spirit is energized with the will and energy to engage in the great opportunities of life and work. By the afternoon, most of us begin to feel the waning of vitality that will, by evening, chase us to a recliner or bed.
William Blake’s famous painting The Dance of Albion (or Glad Day) shows a naked young man with a glorious blaze of light behind him—he is standing on a rock in a sunrise, rising above the material world, welcoming the dawn. The painting carries enormous energy and optimism, as if the youth is leaping right in our face to ask us what we might be up to this glad day.
The morning is a time of promise and potential. Tasks that seemed impossible the night before seem suddenly achievable. It’s possible to look at almost anything in a new light.
In Canada we know our seasons by the light. A summer sunrise begins at 4:30 in the morning, and it is bright long past the supper hour. In the winter the sun begins to set at 3:30 in the afternoon and the stars are still shining as our morning coffee brews. We have learned to make the most of the daylight hours. Morning is precious.
Jean-Paul Sartre said, “There is only one day left, always starting over: it is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk.” As an existentialist philosopher, Sartre may have intended to convey a cynical tone, but I receive it as wise, hopeful, optimistic. John Ruskin put it this way, “Let every dawn be to you as the beginning of life, and every setting sun be to you as its close.”
This is motivating stuff. For me, this does more than fill my heart with “seize the day” enthusiasm. The Bible reminds me, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22, 23). That’s good news, good enough to cheer my heart even in the bleakest winter morning.