I wasn’t expecting to have a moment with this hymn.
I don’t know what I was expecting – perhaps a morning of wading through information, or trying to ignore my personal exhaustion with nature metaphors (a product of this practice, to be sure – they don’t come barreling down in normal time), or a struggle with yet another unfamiliar-to-me tune. And admittedly, the first verse rolled on as expected. A translation of 20th century Chinese theologian TC Chao, they are poetic, but after all the hymns that have gone before in this practice, nothing moving this gloomy morning.
But then I got to the last couplet of the second verse, written by John Andrew Storey (hat tip to the Hymnal Commission for an intriguing mashup). “Dawn break in me too.”
Golden breaks the dawn; comes the eastern sun
over lake and lawn, sets its course to run.
Birds above us fly, flowers bloom below,
through the earth and sky life’s great mercies flow.
As the spinning globe rolls away the night,
nature wears a robe spun of morning light.
Dawn break in me too, as in skies above;
teach me to be true, fill my heart with love.
Because now we have shifted from a “yay, interdependent web” to prayer – and not just any prayer, but the prayer of one who is ready to let go but isn’t sure how.
This is just stunning, breaking my own heart open as I realize how much grief – personal, professional, and global – I am holding on to. It brought first a lump in my throat, then a tear to my eye, then a heaving sob, and finally a time of crying in prayer.
These are the moments we long for in spiritual practice – those moments of opening, epiphany, release, and awe. they don’t happen every day; in fact, the more we seek them, the more elusive they become. But when we just practice, occasionally the Mystery creeps in and makes Its presence known, and we remember why we do this.
I should mention the tune, Le P’ing, by Hu Te-ngai (no information available); it was unfamiliar to me but it’s quite lovely and easy to pick up.
Photo by Jan Shim.