Consecutive Days Riding: 146 Days Blogged: 130
New Mileage: 5 Total Trip Mileage: 1015
As I rode the bike today I reflected on the scenes along our route as we moved north on a road bordered to the east by a thin ribbon of sand and the vast Atlantic Ocean. One of the ways I scout for pilgrimage sites is to follow a detailed road map (on the internet) that includes photos of the scenery along the route. These scenes will at time point me in the direction of unexpected sites for us to visit or may simply inspire my creativity. Today I decided to focus on sunrise scenes!
I am aware that sunrises are often seen as symbolic of renewal, rebirth, and spring. I have always found myself attracted to sunrises and prefer an early morning walk as a great way to get my day started. My youngest son recently noted that he enjoys sunrises more than sunsets, because a sunrise means “you got the whole day ahead of you!”
As I collected some of the photos of sunrises I noticed that the most striking and beautiful sunrises had less to do with the sun itself and more to do with the clouds that interacted with and affected the sunlight. I began to realize that there is a great deal more symbolism and meaning in sunrises because of the clouds that often accompany them.
If sunlight is seen as being representative of knowledge, guidance and/or wisdom, then clouds must serve a function of shaping, blocking, filtering and focusing this “light” before it is received by the viewer/recipients. While we may marvel at that spot of intense light as the sun first breaks the plane of the horizon, we cannot for long study its growing presence without turning away. It is too bright and intense in its raw form, in a very real way we are unable to “handle it” in it pure form. However, a covering or haze of clouds can afford us the opportunity to see the light’s source in it’s perfect round form and to realize that its size is not as large as its unfiltered corolla might leads us to believe. Some would say this is representative of the intense “glory” of the divine, that we must turn our gaze away. The clouds imperfect covering allows us to study and receives insights from the lights source that would be absent with an empty bare sky.
Studying the sunrise scenes lead me to realize that clouds not only filter and diminish the sun’s intensity but also shape and focus the light, whether that is through the creation of a halo, a bright highlighted edge on a cloud or a beam of sunlight. We may become acutely aware of the multiple colors or qualities of the light because of the cloud’s effects. While the wisdom and knowledge represented by the sunlight maybe intense and illuminating in its pure form, I believe it is the interaction with the clouds, with the contrasts and textures created by this dance between the shifting and impermanent cloud forms that gives the sunrise its awe inspiring “take your breath away” quality.
As a pluralist I often tell my sons and students that there is no “one way” to get from point A to point B, that different people may need very different paths. Whether that end point is an understanding of the divine (as with a spiritual pilgrim), finding a career/job that fits for you, or finding the answer/cure to what ails you (as in the course of psychotherapy). I look at these sunrises as representing in a graphic way this message. Some people like their insights and wisdom pure and straight forward, some need it filtered and muted, others need to be awed and dazzled with dancing colors. Throw in a sunrise over the sea and you get the added reflection and texture of the ocean’s surface.
What are these clouds that shape and change the light, the wisdom coming at us from its divine source? They are made up of water, a part of the earth, and air. We as human being are made up in large parts of water. Therefore, much of this blocking and filtering is perhaps part of our nature or a product of the process of being human. I suspect these clouds are representative of a number of things: teachings and instructions from parents and church leaders; personal experiences (like mystical experiences); biases we embrace out of safety and/or ignorance; exercises and rituals (like prayer, meditation, reason and logic); negative and/or positive mood states; our egos and basic needs.
Perhaps that is a topic for another blog! I for one can just as easily get lost watching a cloud and its flowing, shifting dance across the sky as I can in a sunrise.
I hope you enjoyed today’s words and sunrise scenes!
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