Zensights provides a space for gentle contemplation in a world filled with hectic action and stressed-out situations.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


For many years it has been my custom to awaken long before I have to go to work, so that I can sit in the morning quiet and come to terms with the day. In the winter I sit snuggled on my sofa and drink my coffee in the dark, meditating on what has and what will happen to me at my job. In the spring, the summer, and the fall, when the weather and mosquitoes permit, I sit with my coffee at an old wooden picnic table on my backyard deck and watch the world come to life.

Mornings have always held certain magic for me. The majesty of the sunrise is truly a wonder to behold. When there are no clouds, the sky slowly changes from black to dark purple to lavender to pink and then to daylight. When there are large banks of clouds, all the color shifts are accompanied by rays of light piercing the fluff and heralding the day. When there is an overcast sky, the changes are merely from black to gray to white.

Day after day, with no prompting from us humans, the morning comes. Day after day you can find me up before the sun, watching and preparing for its arrival.

One summer morning was particularly magnificent. I sat at the picnic table and sipped my coffee, carefully coming to consciousness. My three cats were near, stretching and yawning after a long night of mousing. Bosco, the biggest, washed his face and whiskers. Jones, the white one, stood out against the fading night. I could barely make out Kitty, my tortoiseshell cat.

The morning stars overhead were still very bright, because I could still make them out without my glasses on. I could see the constellation, Orion, as he stood proudly over the tree shadows that surrounded me, their lacy silhouettes against the brightening sky.

Then, out of the huge dark shadow that was my neighbor's tree, a large mass of darkness suddenly erupted from the shadow's edge. Slowly the mass unfolded into the shape of a great bird with a considerable wingspan. As my cats and I sat there in awed silence, we watched as the shape grew larger and larger, coming closer and closer.

I don't know if it were real or if I had imagined it. The hour was, after all, quite early. I could have been dreaming, I suppose; but I could have sworn that as the creature passed just a few feet over my head, I felt the turbulence of its wings upon my upturned face. I could tell that I was being carefully observed and analyzed. And when the flying animal had made sure that I was neither food nor anything with which he’d care to tangle, his shadow was absorbed into the darkness on the opposite side of my yard. It was glorious.

I'm not sure what the significance of this event was. Were I a Native American I might have ascribed a meaning to the shadow; it was an omen or a portent for the future. My modern day self thought this "sign" to be a good one. After all, it had lifted my spirits. I had witnessed something rare and beautiful.

Later, as I stood at the counter in my kitchen pouring cat crunchies into three bowls, the sound of a hoot owl calling came gently to me from far in the distance. It was going to be a good day.

from Zen Fishing and Other Southern Pleasures (Ocean Publishing, 2005)


Blogger Kay Day said...

Dorothy, that's one of my favorite essays. Your morning routine caused me to do the same thing. Now every morning I sip my coffee on the deck and I think about you.

I'm so glad you got your blog going. I linked you, and hope you get lots of new readers!
best to ya, Kay

6:23 PM  
Blogger Dorothy K. Fletcher said...

Dear Kay,

You are the best friend! At the risk of sounding like a broken record (or is that CD,now?), thank you!


2:29 PM  
Blogger Pammyjo said...

Dottie, your beautifully written essay made me long for the time I too used to greet the day at morning's call. Morning or night, does anyone besides we dreamers take the time to give their thoughts flight? I'm thinking the world would be a better place if more people did as you do.


6:04 AM  

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