Sunrise or Sunset?
It is the kind of clear morning that doesn’t offer a spectacular sunrise, yellow and pale blue sky announcing the coming day without the fanfare of purples, pinks, or oranges. Rolling over, I see sunlight on the western mountains–the desert floor around me still shaded by their height. I pull myself from sleeping bag and the sleeping forms of my tent mates, tying shoe laces and zipping jackets, my nose buried in my scarf.
I walk straight out onto the desert floor and it is flat, ridges made by water and wind so faint that I can walk with my eyes closed without hitting anything. Two ravens hop along with me for several minutes, cocking their heads and making gentle croaking noises as they watch me move. I cross the line where dark volcanic igeneous gravel meets pale fine sand, imagining the lava that once stopped at this exact point, slowing its gradual crawl to leave this distinct line of black and white.
As I walk I glance repeatedly over my shoulder, watching the eastern horizon of tall mountains for the sun. I finally decide to sit down, my original destination farther than I’m willing to walk due to the ways the desert makes distance deceiving. I settle onto the sand, cold in the morning air, wanting and waiting for the sun to rise. I watch the mountains for several minutes, admiring shafts of light that break through lower passes and ridges, before closing my eyes and breathing into my body. Opening my eyes I glance up at the mountains and in these precious seconds the sun crests the mountains and fiercely strikes the desert floor. Although I know it irrational, I half expect triumphant music to burst through the air, signalling the coming of the day to all senses. I am met instead with deafening desert quiet, my ears ringing with my own heart beat and the pounding whooosh of silence. The desert floor around me is instantly transformed. The temperature rises several degrees, song birds dart out into the light, the day begins.
It happens in a second and had I looked away I would have missed it. We wait for the sun, praying and hoping to be touched by it’s warmth. The sky is light for minutes, even hours, before the sun slips over the horizon but when he finally reaches up to pull himself over the horizon it happens so fast we often miss it. Every time I see the sunrise I feel as if I have witnessed a small miracle.