She is slow to rise, almost shy in the way that she quietly and intimately peeks above the horizon. It is as if she forgot that she had risen only the day before, as if she forgot that the dawning of the day is set aside for her extravagant show. Or perhaps her aim is to teach patience to those willing to witness her gentle awakening.Orange, gold, and soft pink, she throws back her head and stretches out her limbs in a sudden burst of remembered confidence. And then she rests, observing as the human race both welcomes and curses her arrival.
My feet hit the floor, bare and chilled. Winter’s breath sneaks in through the cracks of old, wooden paned windows, and I wonder at the lingering cold spell that has outstayed its welcome. Dear old Winki the cat, with missing teeth and shrill meows, reminds me that I’ve overslept. She is ready for breakfast. And as I bend down to feed her, I realize that I have missed another sunrise.
There are few things I love more than watching the sun rise. I’ve had some of my most beautiful times with the Lord, alone in the morning light. In the woods. On a fencepost. By the ocean. On a morning run. Once, I stood on a mountain side and danced to “The Circle of Life” as the sun rose. It was one of my finer life choices.
Sun rises are special because unlike sunsets, most of the world is still asleep.
Sometimes, as I’m pouring my morning coffee or driving into Nashville for work, I think about how many sunrises I have slept through in my 23 years. How many beautiful displays of color and quiet I’ve missed because I have not taken the effort to get up early and patiently wait. I’ve missed the grand awakening of the world because I just didn’t open my eyes.
For the past seven weeks, I’ve been working at a Metro school on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. The goal was to provide an “intervention” of sorts to students who were struggling both behaviorally and academically. Essentially—to pour into them instead of suspending them. Those twelve faces have challenged and taught me more than they will ever know. They are merely seeds planted in dry, dry dirt. And they lash out for lack of water and care.
It is hard to see someone’s heart in a room of disruption, disrespect, and disobedience. Often, I feel as if nothing I say or do matters. But it is the beating of each individual heart that I must remember. Because if we are willing to wait, those we love on, reach out to, and patiently walk beside will eventually open up their heart cavities, deep and so often filled with pain and sorrow.
It was Thursday that I found him, sulking around the corner of the brick building. Normally so full of things to say, he stood silently crying. He blamed it on the smashing of his flower, but I knew it was more. He didn’t know how to handle the memory of his brother’s birthday. He would have been eighteen. Instead, he was shot, cold. And it was too heavy for a fifth grade little boy to carry. But these are the things they carry. I wiped away his tear and we silently sat down on the concrete. Later, I sat in the same spot, talking with a young girl about self-worth—about how we are so much more than what people tell us we are. She is beauty and strength and boldness. She smiled as I told her what she was to me. And her dimple deepened as she let the words soak into her. It was like sunshine for her soul.
These are the moments we miss if our eyes are closed. These are the moments worth waiting for. Worth fighting for. Worth putting forth extra effort to see. Like the rising of the sun, they often come slowly. They sneak up like a quiet fog, but then illuminate life with their arrival. But people and their hearts are always, always worth our time.
May I strive to truly see. To patiently wait. And may I see a hundred sunrise mornings along the way.