Sunless Sunrise

“We should not feel embarrassed by our own difficulties, only by our failure to grow anything beautiful from them.”
Alain de Button

It’s perplexing how we can know something in our core, believe something deeply embedded in our soul, yet we forget it and drift from its truth throughout various seasons of life. Though we often forget the truths we know, truths cannot not forget us and call us back to them over and over and over again, with grace and tenderness each time. While the voice of truth is loving, it’s been my experience that I won’t typically hear love and will be accompanied by a grey sky when I was hoping for a sunrise. I hope and long for warm revelations, light breezes and a lighter heart, but curated life is hardly life at all.

I have spent the last number of  years, particularly the most recent one, deconstructing my views, ideals and the way I interact with life. In this time, I have divorced the church, pursued a healthy relationship with and understanding of my sexuality, furthered my awareness of how I can (and must) interact with the moving world around me, along with countless other areas. This soul work is more than exhausting, but it is one of the most beautiful processes I have ever been part of.

Yesterday I had a perfect plan to visit an overlook I love a bit east of Nashville, but a quick check of the weather had me erasing my plans. Instead of spending valuable time traveling, I determined I would stay closer to home, but still go to a soothing overlook that I am fond of, so I closed my eyes and dreamt of a sunrise. The shrill of the analog alarm announced that it was time to gather my things, time to set out on my adventure. I arrived to the spot overlooking the valley and set up my hammock 10 minutes before the sun should meet me. As I sank into my hammock, filled my nostrils with the scent of coffee and found a soundtrack for the birds to sing to, I fulfilled my end of the arrangement; I made space for a sunrise that would never come. As the moments passed, cold wind brushed my nose and the colors of the day remained muted. In this moment, of life letting me down, I began to wonder why I didn’t get what I wanted or rather what I actually wanted. In my mind, I believed that I wanted a sunrise, to bask in warmth as the earth awoke, but the coffee that grew colder each second reminded me the warmth I thought I wanted would not be found in this place. I wanted to leave, to pack up and go back to my couch with my dog and be comfortable, but something begged me to stay. The truth that whispered to me was the reminder that life is always happening, always asking us to listen and engage with it. I have recently struggled with the realization that I have unknowingly created a fairly comfortable life, an existence in which I choose my challenges and detour from discomfort every chance I get. I suppose I believed that truth was in light and darkness was void of truth, but I am finding truth simply is; truth is in all.

As I remember some of the portions of life in which I experienced deep growth and priceless revelations, they were more frequent in places and situations I would not willingly choose. I heard recently that we can not plan our own enlightenment, that we cannot pursue that which must be revealed to us through experience, but maybe we can be more willing to wait in the grey, to seek and engage with the life around us, always asking it of the truth it contains. What would life look like if I allowed myself to be a complex existence…a human…a human that had flaws, oversights and the like, but chose to embrace them instead of condemning them, knowing that they are allowed to exist and in fact must exist to be whole. I desire to be whole, to strengthen each area of my being. Not just the convenient or comfortable ones and I can do this within wisdom and discernment, that it does not need to be reckless or brash but if it is, that is okay too.

Who is to say what this journey may contain,
but I desire to be present in it and receptive of it.

Hold Fast Hope
Joel William