Last week I wrote about the tug o' war currently taking place between winter and spring, and reflected on the tug o' war within myself. This led to various comments, here on the blog and on Facebook, including someone musing on the reconciliation of our inner extremes, and wondering what part of the day this reconciliation would be like.
My immediate response was dawn; that state filled with promise and newness, with fresh starts and hope, always hope, even if the day contains things to be dreaded. Even the most magnificent, showiest sunrise-dawn-daybreak somehow contains a gentleness which eludes the same fiery sun and colours at sunset. Maybe this was the intuition behind that line in Silent Night: ...with the dawn of redeeming grace... - because what, other than a quiet, gently seeping dawn could adequately begin to describe the quiet, gently seeping arrival of redeeming grace in our lives?
I have slept through a great many dawns, especially in the summer, when - however beautiful they may be - they're also far too early for my liking. I might grudgingly wake up with the very first light then manage to sleep on, waking later to sunlight flooding in. But there are times, especially in winter, when I have prayed through the dawn chorus and watched the sun, at first trembling and hesitant, begin its slow ascent. Sometimes I have grabbed my camera and thrown open the window, impervious to the freezing swirls of air I let in; at Llannerchwen I pull on shoes and a fleece and rush outside, into the icy cold and the dew, to one of my favourite spots for dawn-catching.
Rather like the process of inner reconciliation. We can be all too aware of it: labour for and feel the surrender, the pain, the gradual letting go; see and experience the magnificence of it, the slow dawning of light within us. But often, too, it can be a gentle, gradual seeping; a worked-for, prayed-for yet imperceptible transformation at a deeply-buried depth... until one day, as if at daybreak, we become aware of new light, a new dawn, the presence and power of redeeming grace...