“For the first showings of the morning light
and the emerging outline of the day
thanks be to you, O God.
For earth’s colours drawn forth by the sun
its brilliance piercing clouds of darkness
and shimmering through leaves and flowing waters
thanks be to you.
Show to me this day
amidst life’s dark streaks of wrong and suffering
the light that endures in every person.
Dispel the confusions that cling close to my soul
that I may see with eyes washed by your grace
that I may see myself and all people
with eyes cleansed by the freshness of the new day’s light.”
~J. Philip Newell, Celtic Benediction:Morning and Night Prayer
Yesterday, I began my day with this prayer. I sat at a neighborhood coffee shop having my warm cup of coffee, staring into the middle distance at the cars and people rushing by. Now it may seem odd to some that I would have my morning prayer in a coffee shop, but as an extrovert, I am often the most present to myself and to the Holy when I am surrounded by the energy of others. It is just a fact. I have tried to make it otherwise, spending my time distracted in quiet places, forcing myself to pay attention to the silence. While I do need these moments of solitude to remain grounded, I receive a very needed connection in the presence of others…..much like a cord plugged into an electrical outlet.
Reading this prayer slowly to myself as I watched the beginning of a new day, I was aware of how each person I saw, including myself, were in the same boat. We were all starting out our Wednesday, October 27, 2010. The sun had recently come up in the eastern sky, the autumn leaves were blowing in the terrific wind outside in the street. Possibility was all around.
And yet as I looked out at the young man waiting for the bus at the stop across the street, I wondered what the possibility of his day really held. He looked tired, disheveled. And the two women sitting at the table nearby who were in intense conversation about, what appeared, something deeply important to them. What bound them together in such rich conversation? And the young coffee barista, the one that always remembers my ‘regular’, flirting coyly with her beloved across the counter. What did their day hold?
As the prayer indicates, each of us carries a certain darkness and suffering that is visible and invisible to others. The world also carries such a heaviness. But, if we allow ourselves, we can choose to glimpse ‘the light that endures in every person’. I believe that as we glimpse that light, if we take a moment to fan that flame through our interactions or our removed prayers for that person, the light grows and illuminates not only the individual, but also the world. Too often we only allow ourselves to give energy to that darkness, that suffering. By averting our eyes, by ignoring the other, by simply not being present, we can miss the opportunity to bring out the light in another person’s life. When we do, we miss the moment for ‘our eyes to be washed by grace.’ In missing the opportunity of recognizing the depth of suffering and the immensity of joy in those with whom we travel life’s path, we lose out on the chance to have grace rain down on us.
As a new day dawns, may we all find our eyes wide open with the chance……with the choice…of connecting to that enduring light that glows at the center of all Creation. Amidst life’s dark streaks, to do anything else, would really be a shame.