It’s Morning: Stumbling into Life’s Lessons

It was morning. I stumbled from my bedroom and made my way to the kitchen. I was glad I remembered to set up the coffeepot last night. Automatic timers are a wonderful invention. After pouring a cup of freshly brewed coffee, I headed to the balcony. From my balcony seat, I looked out over Biscayne Bay. I took a deep breath and began to sip my first cup of morning coffee. Yes, it was good.

Biscayne Bay: this body of water between Miami and Miami Beach had been a source of solitude and solace for me during my years living in South Florida. Living on a small island in the middle of the Bay, I had grown used to the breeze coming off the water, the sound of waves, reflections of sunlight, blue skies, myriad cloud formations, and the flight path of a wide variety of birds.

Morning is a special time on the Bay. Pelicans and gulls glide over the Bay with ease. Occasional egrets, most often found inland, sometimes venture this way, too. From their airborne travels, my winged friends would suddenly dive into the blue crystal water, returning to flight with the catch of the day.

Winter mornings welcomed the dolphins at play, bouncing along the waves. Never alone, but traveling in pods, their bodies arch up along the waves, bouncing with the wave patterns. Watching them, I would smile and remember the verse of Psalm 104: that great fish you made to play with, O God.

In both winter and summer, other companions were always waiting for me. Surprisingly, the ones who taught me most as I watched from my balcony perch were the wise old buzzards. These carnivorous winged creatures seemed frightful when I watched them tear apart a fresh carcass; yet, this macabre image is transformed in flight. Buzzards glide effortlessly on the breezes, climbing higher than any other bird in this environment. In groups of three or four their circular flight paths cross and intersect almost a spiral dance. Gliding onto an upward wind vent, they climb higher and higher, then spin off to soar, gazing down on the distant land and water in seeming effortless flight. No struggle or work. Simply gliding on the current and allowing them to be taken where they need to be. The buzzards teach a lesson about the mysterious balance of pain and beauty in life.

It is with this community of winged creatures and fish that I began each day with a time of prayer and meditation. It was from this perch that I learned lessons about life, its richness and fullness, and the deep wisdom to be learned from our environment. I left my home on an island in Biscayne Bay. Leaving behind a lush rich environment of tropical life, I have ventured to Arizona in hopes of responding to a different sense of call. Responding to this call has led me to the desert, the spiritual place of preparation.

The intense dryness and heat of the desert causes one to examine life in particular ways. What is really needed for survival? How does one function in the heat of that day? How can I best pace myself for the long haul through the heat? These day-to-day questions of desert dwellers, which cause one to make sure to travel with water and that new comers like myself to acquire a taste for sport beverages, are important spiritual questions for our lives. What is really necessary for our lives? How do we make it when the heat of life challenges us in fundamental ways? How do we pace the rhythm of our lives for the long haul when conflicting values and responsibilities pull us in myriad directions?

The only resolutions I find for the reality of life’s challenges and questions come from the rhythm of prayer. While we often look for quick answers, finding ways to lead a graceful life comes from patience and persistence. Answers don’t come magically. The resolutions to the challenges of life slowly grow from within us.

So it is that in the morning, I stumble from my bedroom and make my way to the kitchen. I’m glad I remembered to set up the coffeepot the night before. Automatic timers are a wonderful invention. After pouring a cup of freshly brewed coffee, I now head to other places to pray. From morning walks in a desert Zen garden, I learn what it means to put down roots in dry, sandy soil and soak in the moisture which continues to give life during many hot days. Yes, there is deep wisdom to be learned from our environment.


Stumbling into Life's Lessons is avaliable as hardcover, paperback and ebook on Amazon.com or special order from your local bookstores.