Grand Teton NP, Wyoming

By John D. Pierce

Not everyone is a morning person. And I’ve not always been one.

Now, however, it is my favorite time of the day — especially when in a natural setting.

Even when not, I try each day to look up from my computer and gaze out the front windows at the sun is rising — as well as gazing each evening out the back windows at the sunset.

Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, GA

My colleague and hiking buddy Bruce Gourley and I often stake out the best places for watching (and photographing) sunrises when traveling together.

Driving or walking to such spots as the darkness begins to give way, we hope for the right traces of low clouds to bring the best colors into focus.

Mark Charles, a Christian of Navajo and Dutch American descent, writes in Unsettling Truths: “One of the most beautiful, beneficial, and sacred spiritual disciplines I have incorporated into my life is the discipline of watching the sunrise.”

Walnut Street Bridge, Chattanooga, TN

Not all spiritual disciplines fit all persons. So I don’t judge those who sleep in rather than chase sunrises.

But I offer a hearty “Amen” to Mark Charles.

Simply watching the sun come up in the morning or set in the evening takes us beyond our narrow slice of life — and any sense that the revolving Earth has any of us at it center.

Charles adds: “When you do it day after day, week after week, month after month, and even year after year, something else happens. Subtle changes become glaring.”

He notes the timing associated with seasonal changes, and how the sun shows up further north in the spring and further south in the fall.

Lake McDonald, Glacier NP, Montana

“Another benefit of watching the sunrise is the beauty of the sky,” he concluded. “After a while, you realize it’s not so much a sky as it is a canvas.”

He adds: “Creator is not a far off and distant God. Creator is an amazing artist with a personality, an eye for beauty, and even a sense of humor.”

Watching the sunrise and listening to the early morning sounds, led him to write: “Every morning is a carefully orchestrated production, complete with a musical score… The production is the act of creation of a piece of art.”

Bryce Canyon, Utah

While coffee is high on my morning priorities, getting up and looking out at the sunrise ranks highly as well.

It grants the perspective needed for all the mundane and meaningful things that are to come.

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