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Heart's ease - an infusion was said to help mend a broken heart

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

When the dawn is still dark

Getting out of bed is never easy in the winter, even with the heating on. The glowing numbers on my clock proclaim that it's morning, but the darkness in my room shouts night-time, and my befuddled, bleary eyes and body respond to the darkness, and try to convince me that the clock can't possibly be correct. At times, despite the bleariness, the first lines from a poem by Robert Louis Stephenson, remembered from childhood, come back to me...

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day...

Yes, indeed, in winter I most definitely get up at night...

But there is a compensation! I settle down to pray when all is pre-dawn dark and silent, except for the occasional creak or distant car. After some time, I become aware of a few chirrups, then another, slightly different, then another... Within a minute or so I can hear a full orchestral dawn chorus tweeting away outside my window: chirps and warbles, lusty, full-throated low tones and high-pitched upper notes; long, melodious stanzas or short, staccato sounds, some a constant harmony, others just throwing in the occasional tinkling or raucous bit of sound. This is something I rarely hear in summer, unless I'm awake far too early, but each winter, as the dawn gets later I become delightedly aware of the chorus, dispelling my bleariness on a cold and dark morning.


I sit in silence, with birdsong outside and God within and around, and note that the darkness is imperceptibly receding; the blackness is becoming a pearly grey, and somewhere between the trees - on certain blessed days - are the first rays of the rising sun. The dawn chorus dies down, its work done...

I know that there are prosaic reasons for birdsong; that the sweetest of melodies are really all about defending food and territory, and not about singing hymns of praise to the dawn... but even so... I can still enjoy the music! And yesterday, when I came across this quote from Tagore, I smiled, understanding exactly what it means, and also knowing I will now listen to the dawn chorus in a new way...

Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.

1 comment:

  1. Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still light. There. In that sentence. Nelson Mandela. May he rest in peace.

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