Even though I am usually a night-owl, I made the commitment to participate in a Sunrise Solstice walk on June 21st. Not wanting to miss my most unaccustomed 3:30 am wake up call, I slept fitfully and even got myself out of bed before the alarm sounded. Anticipating not wanting to make any early morning decisions before my brain was fully awake, I had pre-set my coffee maker and laid my clothes out before going to bed. I felt a bit like a fireman/woman, ready to jump into them in the pre-dawn hour.
This Sunrise Solstice walk was around the lake at the Laguna de Santa Rosa preserve. Not having to deal with any traffic at a time when not even the roosters were out and about strutting their stuff, I easily arrived at the pre-set gathering time. There were about 20 cars parked along the trailhead, but I didn’t notice any people. I was grateful to have the little flashlight on my keychain that my brother had sent it to me in a sweet gesture of his continuing care for my well-being.
Deciding to forge ahead on my own, I made a solitary walk, which turned out to be quite wonderful. The only sounds were a rustling of cattails in a slight breeze and the beginning of a chorus of bird songs calling up the dawn. Like a Brahms concerto, it started with one or two trills and slowly built into a serenade of harmonized song.
The sky almost imperceptibly began to turn from deep-space darkness (only lit by starlight) into the light of dawn. I was very aware of the turning of the earth as the light of day brightened at the horizon.
This reminded me of something I learned from Buckminster (Bucky) Fuller many decades ago. He was a stickler about using the most precise language to place us in proper relationship with the universe. He never referred to early morning as sunrise. He would call it Sunsight, as the eastern horizon would fall away revealing the light of the sun. He adamantly refuted the idea that the sun rises, reminding us that it was the turning of the earth that brought the dawn to us.
In the evening, instead of calling it sunset, Bucky called it Earthrise, as the western horizon moved in such a way as to obscure the rays of the sun.
I also remember his once responding to the question, “What do you think about humans going out into space?” His reply was, “There is no going out into space. We are in space. We are at this moment ripping through space at 67,000 miles per hour.”
Terry Tempest Williams encourages us to remember: “The World is holy. We are holy. Daily prayers are delivered on the lips of breaking waves, the whisperings of grasses, the shimmering of leaves.”
On such a serene early morning walk, I could feel myself in space, feet firmly on the ground, and in tune with the whispering of grasses all around me. Knowing I was blessed in this moment, I sent prayers to all who are in distress, most especially mothers and children. May they know they are not alone as we reach out to one another.
– Justine Willis Toms