Rev. John Farmer’s ‘Reflections’ column

by Rev. John Howard Farmer

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Morning Still Breaks

From my window on a yesteryear morning, I peered into the vast dark space. At first it appeared drab, lonely. It whispered back to my squinting eyes that it was only a black horizon punctuated by wide margined quotation marks. I knew better. I hoped for more. My eyes burned to see light.

Across the river the horizon reddened. Thin threads of light tore holes in the dark. Poker red, burnt orange ribbons adorned the black, blue and gray panorama.

My mind remembers many a morning peering across the Corrotoman River: always interesting, always stimulating, always recreating.

My finger tapped out a rhythm onto the sill. I focused and refocused. How could such a beautiful sight be so obscured, I mumbled? I needed my view. I needed to know that there was someone out there. The morning silence was hummed awake by the fan on our heating system. It whispered its monotone hymn.

As the absence of light subsided, I threw open the window of my mind. This would be a grand time to talk to God. I could chat away, without the prefix: “Let us pray…” I did. Never taking my eyes off the window-framed world, I began to talk with God. Notice, mind you, I did not say “to.”

Soon the vastness retreated. My vigil prevailed, but my eyes were seeking intervention, not sight. It had been ages since God and I had a chance to review life’s happenstances. I felt warmed, comforted, so I chatted away. I was talking out loud. The time passed quickly.

It was as if I had blinked my eyes to suddenly see daylight. The far shore, up the Eastern Branch, turned an orange and black hue. The north shore from Moran Creek to Taylor’s Creek shook off its dull blanket. Over toward the late Elzie Currell’s airport, at Indiantown Farm (also known as Butter Cup International, former base for menhaden fish spotter types), hung ropes of white busy assembling into clouds.

Before I could catalogue the unfolding dawn, it happened. An explosion of light prevailed. One could almost hear trumpets play. God was giving me another new day. With a loud amen, ole Sol plopped upon a mat of gray. My window panes steamed. White hot morning had broken. Blue and green awoke. My world colored.

I hummed softly at first. I was tickled that a tune so familiar as to have been sung by a 1960’s British songwriter, singer and philanthropist Cat Stevens, had come to my mind. How odd, I had never associated it with its hymnbook origin; yet it is a popular and well-known Christian hymn first published in 1931. The tune is also associated with the Christmas carol “Child in the Manger.”

By the way, did you know that Cat Stevens was just a stage name? He was the child of a Greek Cypriot and a Swedish Baptist mother. He was in fact Steven Georgiou, born July 21, 1948. After a bout of illness, he found comfort in meditation, yoga and metaphysics. While on holiday in Morocco he became intrigued by the Islamic ritual call to prayer. He formally converted to the Muslim faith and took the name Yusuf (Joseph) Islam in 1978.

Well, God and I sang together: “Morning has broken like the first morning, blackbird has spoken like the first bird. Praise for the singing! Praise for the morning! Praise for them, springing fresh from the world! Sweet the rain’s new fall sunlit from heaven, like the first dew fall on the first grass. Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden, sprung in completeness where his feet pass. Mine is the sunlight! Mine is the morning born of the one light Eden saw play! Praise with elation, praise every morning, God’s recreation of the new day!”

There you have it. Did you sing along? Oh, I hope so.

For at least that moment I felt so renewed. I know why. I had found my God in the darkness and he talked with me through to the light. I owe him better than I have given, that’s a fact. I suspicion that I am not alone. My heart trembles at the notion of all we who call ourselves Christian finding ourselves thrust into any new day, fully aware of God’s redemptive power. Why do we hide his light so?

Get a grip. Dig the vast resources that God has placed within your soul. Pray yourself through this week. Peer into all the deep dark recesses of your life. Invite God to illuminate the path you need trod. Invest yourself in each new morning until next your feet stand in some sanctuary holy.

Just imagine if we all arrived at our houses of worship excited by the opportunities which God is placing at our discretion. Every church would be revived by the light which we would have brought. From the piercing of one single candle, we could pull together our corporate light. Less and less dark our world could become.

Morning still breaks, like the first morning; how has it, how does it, how will it change me? Ah, “God’s recreation of the new day.”

Let’s become new people of faith. Let your light shine. “I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, O Lord, (Psalms 57:8-9).”