“In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” The Song Of Simeon
When camping, I didn’t really enjoy waking up on a cool or cold morning when the sky was just beginning to lighten and my sleeping bag was toasty warm. It always seemed too early to be awake, though I inevitably crawled out and threw my clothes on before I became chilled. Nevertheless, walking out of a tent or climbing up from under a tree always seemed to leave me shivering. The one thing I could count on to warm my chilled and sleepy self was to see the sunlight touch the tops of the mountains, hills, and/or trees. The sun’s light and warmth would gradually creep downwards towards me at its own pace. Being touched by that first ray of warm sunlight, having watched it grow and expand until it covered the whole earth and wrapped itself around me, was truly sublime.
As I’ve been saying Morning Prayer these past few months, I keep pausing over the line in “The Song Of Simeon” that reminds us that “In the tender compassion of our God/the dawn from on high breaks upon us.” In that brief moment, I’m drawn back into seeing the sunlight coming down to wash over me, and the feelings of warmth, comfort, and even a “oneness of all things” that came with it. Transposing those emotions into my prayers, I feel as if God’s love for me—and all of His creation—has been moving gently towards me until I’m bathed in its light and warmth. Whatever darkness the day will bring cannot stand against that light, and as my prayer time ends I feel prepared for the day ahead.
Father Francis taught us to “pray always,” to literally make our daily life a prayer to the Lord. With God’s light warming us and illuminating the events of our day, it’s hard to lose sight of the path back too Him, the path that we were invited to follow, and the journey we have embraced.