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Last night in a taxi, I looked out the window and took in all of the beauty in New York City.  The full moon that hovered over the wintry city made me gasp, quite literally taking my breath away.

It reminded me of how the moon charmed me a few days earlier in Bryant Park, of how lucky I’d felt all week to stumble on beauty no matter my mood. I thought about the words of wisdom a friend gave me when I first moved to New York.

Remember to look up.  That’s where all the beauty is.

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A few days later after an early morning workout, I witnessed the streets of Manhattan being bathed in the glow of a sunrise.

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Of course, sometimes you need to look down, too.  Surprises are on the sidewalk as well.

Sidewalk Heart

Signs of love – and beauty – are everywhere.  Look up.  Look down.  Look all around.

xo, with goodness and grace

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Today I’m grateful for the beams of light that were bookends for my day.

I’ve struggled on and off with insomnia over the last year, which at times has brought me to the brink of madness.  (Or the need to be very dramatic, at least.) For a time this summer, I held it at bay, finally sleeping through the night.  But, some mornings these last few weeks have have found me awake at the too-early hour of 4am.

This was one of those mornings.

I tossed and turned in that state where you know you are awake but are afraid to open your eyes for fear that you will never, ever sleep again.  (Did I mention that my lack of sleep has made me very, very dramatic?) That state where every worry you have resides in the pit of your stomach, seizing the moment so now you must pay attention.

And then.

At the time I needed to get up for work, I reluctantly allowed myself to be awake. And I was greeted with a heavenly light.

Sometimes when the sun rises in my neighborhood, I can see its glow on the trees outside my window or the way the sunlight falls on the building across the street. This morning, the light was oddly concentrated in one pane of my window – an intense peach-hued globe of radiance that literally mesmerized me.

It felt like a showering of a morning blessing, so transforming that I forgot about how tired I was.

My work day was filled with the usual chaos.  The lunch eaten too quickly in order to get to the next meeting.  The co-workers that you see in passing but don’t actually engage in conversation.  The moment where you step outside to get air, but can’t remember whether the air was warm and humid or cool and breezy.

And then it ends, and the act of leaving the office offers a chance for soul restoration.

It was then that it caught my eye and stopped me – a sunset full of grace.  The giant, perfectly round orb of luminonsity, its color otherwordly, made me feel fortunate to be in that spot, in that moment, in this particular city, to have the privilege of witnessing such beauty.

It’s in those moments that I believe in the magic of the world.

My intention was to write about the light.

This morning I was reminded that the universe’s best gifts are often offered up when the rest of the world is still sleepily tucked in. Up earlier than I normally like to be, my plan was to go to the office while it was peaceful and I could be productively alone. I walked around my apartment with a thousand thoughts in my head and was distractedly trying to figure out what to wear .

Then I looked out the window.

I don’t know why the sight of it always surprises me. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s been gloomy and rainy for more days that I can remember, or because I’ve gotten in the habit of hitting snooze five times so I get out of bed when the sun is already up.

But it still surprises me, the beauty of it. I looked up and caught my breath, mesmerized by the magic of the rising light. The sun was rising and its light bathed the trees in front of my window in heavenly rays of lavender and peach and amber and gold.

It’s a sight that I always want to hold on to. But then – like mostly anything you try to cling to – it’s gone, as quickly as it came.

The trick, I’ve learned, is understanding that though you cannot hold onto the light with your eyes, you can hold it in your soul. You can invite the feeling it gives you to stay for a while longer, to unhook you from the madness that life can bring, to turn your head to pay attention to beauty.

I wanted to write about the light. But I see that the light is much more than an ethereal glow on a branch. The light is what’s inside, what flips the switch in you and implores you to take notice of what’s right in front of you.

It’s what brings the magic to an ordinary day and makes the next morning something to look forward to.

Sometimes the most powerful things in life catch you by surprise, like being awakened at 5am simply because the approaching dawn wants to get your attention.

Sunrise over Lake MichiganSunrise over Lake Michigan

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