A man sits in the dark window, bundled in a light grey jacket and a blue Parisian scarf wrapped around his neck. By the light of a lone beeswax taper that flickers nearby on the table, his unruly and uncombed hair shines silver though his face is that of a man in his forties. Awake long before the dawn, in a circle of illumination cast by the candle, he writes with fountain pen in a notebook, a cup of tea on a saucer beside him growing tepid while it listens to the scratching of gold nib upon paper.
Summoned from dreams by a strange call in the darkness, he rises, disoriented at first. Naked in the dark womb of the cottage, he stands at the bifurcated door with its upper panes of old glass, gazing out at moonlit waters of the cove and trees outlined as shadow beings. Listening. No fog or mist lingers about the eaves, the world is only a dark crystal into which to skry.
Opening the door, he steps onto the cool stones of the small covered porch. Still nude in the cool air that brings his whole body alive and tingling, the murmuring low voice of the rolling sea greets him with briny breath, mingled with a fragrant, vaguely lemony scent of Monterey cypress trees. But for the timeless chant of ocean, a deep quietude and stillness holds all in a realm of glimmering shadows and thin moonlight.
The man retreats into the relative warmth of the cottage. He is tempted to return to the cozy comfort of bed but realizes that, once again, he has been curiously invited to greet this morning in the briefly numinous moment when two worlds touch. Reluctantly, he pulls on clothes from the chair, neatly placed there the night before when he undressed for sleep. Clad more warmly, he steps again outdoors in the moonlight and walks slowly with bare feet down to the circle of trees at the edge of the southerly cove.
The ring of Dancers. Seven windswept Monterey cypress trees that gracefully root down into earth and stone, rising up in timeless, evergreen song. Behind him, the warm glow of the candle in the window illuminates the cottage, a small bright beacon in the surrounding darkness. The man steps into the deeply shadowed enclave as if it were a druid’s grove, a place humming with power, secrets, and an ancient wordless song. Gathered round with furrowed, grey arms entwined, the trees are silhouetted against the flashing liquid silver of the sea.
Welcome, earth son.
His eyes scan the surrounding shadows, senses wide, feeling and listening. Mountain lions are not uncommon here, and the hours of dawn and dusk are hunting ones. Yet there is little real danger; for a great cat, there exists an abundance of far easier prey than an adult human. He shrugs away the cold tickle of fear and his projections, and raises his arms to the canopy overhead woven of lacy charcoal mesh.
“If it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go,” he says silently. “For now, I celebrate the moment, the coming dawn, and the mystery of you that is everywhere.”
Speaking aloud to the darkly liminal forms that surround, he offers one of the poems carried in his heart, a way to greet the morning though the eastern sky is not yet light. The golden chariot of day remains some ways off yet, chasing the alluring moon.
Dance, he hears a voice say.
In the ring of Dancers, he begins to dance. Slowly. Stiffly. Limbs move, energy flows, breath increases, bare soles tromp and shuffle amid the cool dirt and sticky shedding of the cypresses. After a few minutes, the man settles back to simply standing. His body feels awake and alive, senses further open to the song of the world.
Bowing to the circle of trees, he walks back toward the flickering light of the cottage windows.
On the fireplace hearth, a second candle, a tall pillar, flickers. The man lights a stick of resinous piñon incense from the American Southwest, places the smoldering taper in its holder, and crossed to the small galley of a kitchen. He switches on a single light above the gas stove, a shapely tulip of antique frosted glass. Electric incandescence floods the space, causing his wide brown eyes to contract and squint. Still wearing his jacket and scarf, he stirs a small pan of warming water and cereal grains—oats, quinoa, amaranth—that will yield a warm breakfast on this cool morning.
The cottage is silent, so too the world outside the sheltering walls and roof. He appreciates the meditation of stirring the pot with a wooden spoon over the blue flame. The gentle and mindful energy keeps with how he begins the day—a hushed and magical meeting of darkness and light, tending the soul at the misty threshold of earth, sea, and sky.
I am quietly old fashioned, the man observes, and the thought bestows a sense of gentle satisfaction, a soft expansion in his belly and breath. An old soul who still hears and speaks the language of plants and trees, rivers, and stars.
Tea and warm porridge ready, he switches off the single light, feeling a sense of relief as the cottage returns to candlelight and shadows, as once again his eyes relax and widen. Again he sits upon the padded bench in the alcove of windows, a yellow throw pillow behind his back, round table beside him, and peers through the panes into darkness. The world seems darker now, though day will soon arrive in its painted, vivid glory, and once more things will regain their memory of color and shape, along with the illusion of separateness.
The various standing stones are etched against the shimmering backdrop of pewter sea, while the familiar shapes of the Dancers stand perpetually in their graceful poses. Come what may, the day begins in quiet appreciation of beauty and interconnectedness. A prayer for all beings.
Grace feels omnipresent.
In the hours of daylight ahead, whatever the weather that unfurls – cool and foggy, or warm and clear – the man will be pulled into the work that awaits, the tasks and trials of his day. The modern manmade world is noisy, demanding, and quarrelsome, but this dawn has been met with mindful intention, an open heart, and expansive breath. May such qualities persist, and be carried forward through the stream of waking hours.
For those who are paying attention, the holy is everywhere near… breathing quietly together in a shared inspiration.
In beauty, it is begun.