Dawn

The coldest part of the day is the hour before dawn.

In all of the adventures that have unfolded on this journey; sublime, exhilarating, frightening, shattering, settling… like the dark-cold before dawn, it is the time immediately before culmination of the insight, the light, the heart warming, that I feel farthest from the ultimate essence of the revelatory experience.

Cold has been large part of this journey. Cold is similar to Wind  (see “Storm’s Movin’ In“) except that it doesn’t announce itself. It is just a present, permeating, relentless force that consumes. From soothing gentle cold to biting, cutting, debilitating cold. In each experience of the drop in temperature, I have contracted and drawn in on myself, collapsed in a defensive curling-up; trying to defend against an enemy that is relentless and unrelinquishable. 

At some point I realize that all defenses are useless and molecule by molecule, microsecond by microsecond, I shed my armor and Cold transforms from needles to wintergreen laden feathers, brushing away the dead cells that have died due to lack of circulation. I sense the firm gentleness of a practiced hand, meticulously cleaning all the crevices and chasms where I have stored my weapons against its teachings and I finally lay down, defenseless. 

Cloud Mountain, Big Bend

And then, as if it were a fragrant oil carried in Cold’s medicine bag,  Warmth drips, coats, soothes the newly raw exposed interior of my being and the relentless sorcery of the Cold is now teacher, healer, awakener.

The way that the dawn insinuates itself on the night is similar. Night will draw back in a defensive posture and barrier itself against the first silver spreading, using the brightest stars or a full moon or a blanket of heavy clouds, but Dawn changes tactics and colors and sometimes the direction of the assault as it lights up Western horizons or mountains with pastels. Each moment is different than the last and Night’s arsenal of defense, though stockpiled to the stars, is never enough and it relents to the onslaught. And then Night too, with its cold light of stars and moon, is known as teacher, healer awakener, for its pointing to my clinging, my attachments, my unhealedness.

And so it is and will be, for in each and every night there is the willingness to be shattered by the dawn no matter how long it takes, and in each and every cold is the warm medicine just waiting to be received.

In the words of a new hero of this age, Amanda Gorman:

When day comes we step out of the shade,

aflame and unafraid

The new dawn blooms as we free it

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it

If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Amanda Gorman from the Inauguration of President Biden

All photos except cloud mountain are from Woodbridge primitive camp near Lawrence, Kanas.

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