To celebrate Easter, I originally searched for a beautiful photo of a glorious sunrise to post here. This rendering of a sunrise was not quite what I had in mind. In the end, that's exactly why I decided to use it. In the rest of this blog post, I will explain why.
I first planned to post a sunrise that looked more like this photo of a St. Augustine sunrise taken by my friend Stacey:
Sunrises like this represent, for me, peak experiences and exciting days, days to remember. In the course of our lifetimes, I hope we have many days like this.
But when I saw the Claude Monet painting, it gave me pause to think, "what about the sunrise that happens every day?" The morning he depicts in this painting seems to be much more ordinary, perhaps a day representing more of my every-day experience of life. When I look at the Monet sunrise, I do not get an immediate "glorious day" feeling. Instead, I find myself drawn into more down to earth, immediate, and ordinary sensory impressions: the coolness of the water, the limited visibility caused by the fog, the quietness of the boat, awareness of the other passengers in the boat with me, the smell of the fresh dew, a morning chill, the bumping noise of the the boatman’s oar as he maneuvers the boat, perhaps the sounds of the people in the other boat or sounds from activity on the shore as the sounds are carried across the water.
Whatever is happening on the shore is a mystery. I sense some human activity there, but I can't quite make out what it is. From the vague outlines I can see, it appears that whatever is on the shore may be messy and imperfect. Placing myself inside the boat in this painting, what do I imagine as the task or errand that puts me on the water at sunrise? Maybe I don’t even know that. The light of day has not yet fully revealed where I am or what is happening around me. And this, sensing things but not knowing, seems more like my ordinary experience of life.
So, I ended up choosing this painting because this, perhaps, seems more like our experience of sunrise in our daily lives. On a daily basis, our focus is on sensory details close to us. We don’t see clearly. We don’t have all the answers. Our lives are messy and imperfect. We are overwhelmed by all that bombards us, and we don’t always know what to think of it.
Thankfully, the sunrise always occurs. The sun rises, whether we focus on it or not. We can trust that light and warmth is coming, sooner or later, and that we will reap its benefit.
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