Dawn of the Soul: Excerpt from “The Bones and Breath”

“The old English farmhouse still feels unfamiliar in the dark, the creak of the floors a language different from others I have learned and since forgotten. Outside, the tranquil, green countryside of Kent stirs to its daily waking in a manner far different from the buzzing urban congestion of London. Rather than cars and the hum of the city, the sounds of suited and booted heels clicking on pavement, here the dawn chorus of birds awakens me each morning. I’ve not heard such a jubilant avian celebration since I dwelt in the windward rainforest of the Big Island of Hawai’i.

After a long night of mysterious dreams, the animated conversations of the neighbor’s flock of tawny chickens and the insistence of a full bladder conspire to wake me. Groggily, I throw back the fluffy bulk of feather comforter, slide from the warm bed, and stumble naked into the bathroom. I’m not yet thinking clearly, and without eyeglasses, I am nearly blind. Habitual senses impaired, I remain at the threshold between worlds, a stranger who hovers between waking and dreaming, wondering what is real and what is not.

Thirteenth-century poet and Sufi mystic Jelaluddin Rumi reaches out to me through time and space in a whisper:

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.

Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill

where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.

Don’t go back to sleep.

I still feel the Dreamtime pulling me as surely as heavy hands on my shoulders, and fragments of dreams illuminate my mind like streaming meteors. As I turn away from the toilet to return to bed, my blurry eyes gaze briefly through the diamond-shaped, leaded glass windows. In the pale grey light, a peach-colored mist drifts across the fields. Beyond the front lawn and along the narrow country lane, the great bare trees, as naked in their winter dreaming as I, stand silhouetted against the slowly lightening sky. All that I can perceive of the hazy dawn world seems draped in an apricot-hued prayer shawl, woven of misty dreams and birdsong.

The bare sentinels stand silently, their branches reaching up into the sky, and I suddenly ‘see’ the graceful beings as spirits cleverly disguised as trees. A thousand slender fingers fanning out to touch the heavens. In a flash of quiet revelation, I sense them letting go of the dreaming stars and joyfully celebrating the promise of the dawn.

They are singing.

The moment shivers with reverence, infused by a sense of wonder as palpable as the morning’s glowing light. Everything is holy. As the Standing Ones sing their praise, I inhale a tremulous breath of awe and joy as my chest expands with gratitude. Am I dreaming or awake? It doesn’t matter. May I, too, celebrate the promise of this new day as I strive to bring the best of myself to the world and offer something of tangible value.

Isn’t this the challenge and unwritten opportunity of each morning? Each moment? As the American poet Mary Oliver eloquently demands in her poem “The Summer Day.” “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

In my silent reverence, the muted, pastel dawn trembles with possibility and celebration. It is the moment when seeming opposites touch and unite to create something new, something greater than each of them. For a short time Night and Day are joined as lovers, cocreating a unique sense of possibility. The world glows, inspired with the numinous passion of darkness and light.

Dawn offers an aperture to the soul. Like the slight pause between an inhalation and exhalation, it is a space of hushed potential. A place where disparate worlds, unspoken promise, and dreams all overlap in nonduality. Wholeness.

The door is round and open. 

The soul speaks to us in dreams, sharing its own visions and curious images for the waking world, where it hopes to sing us awake. It whispers a longing to be embodied rather than denied, remembered rather than forgotten, sung and not silenced. Soul years to fulfill its unique role and destiny as creative human potential.

When the Dreamtime retreats and we move blearily and busily into our daylight hours, we either carry our dreams forward or lose and forget them in the mists. So, too, with the waking dream of our precious lives. Each day we have the opportunity to work towards embodying a dream—a life of authentic and soulful meaning—or set it aside amid the noise, distractions, and well-spun illusions of the world.

As I return to the warm comfort of my bed in the softly growing light, I reach back towards the already fleeting dream from which I awakened. It is a familiar one that regularly surfaces in slight modifications; sometimes involving a plane, other times it features a boat or train. In every version, however, I am departing to reside in a foreign country, but in my rush to board, I realize that I must leave my luggage behind. Checking that I have wallet and passport, I decide that these two items will suffice to see me through, and I choose to go on.

The door is round and open.

The dream’s significance and repeated message are not lost on me. Awake to the morning, listening to the dawn chorus outside the old farmhouse, I won’t be able to get back to sleep now. It doesn’t matter. The day has arrived with a tremulous sense of magic, wonder, and awe. Once again I have heard the Song of the World and received a reminder to celebrate the beauty.

Don’t go back to sleep.”



[Contains an excerpt from The Bones and Breath: A Man’s Guide to Eros, The Sacred Masculine, and the Wild Soul, White Cloud Press, 2014. Used with permission; all rights reserved. ]