“And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me, shine until tomorrow, let it be.”–Paul McCartney
During the height of the pandemic, I cultivated the habit of a daily meditation practice. In particular, I often used an app that was free of charge for those in the service careers, including educators. In addition to offering guided meditations, it also offered short (3-5 minute) video clips designed to bolster spirits, inspire courage, and calm feelings of anxiousness.
While I can’t say I was a regular viewer of those videos, I did enjoy, and often learn, from the ones I did watch. One video in particular, used time-lapse photography to demonstrate the ways in which light changes throughout the day. It was one of my favorites, so much so, that I saved the link to my laptop to rewatch from time-to-time
During this video, the narrator explains the way our experience of color changes over the course of a day and the science behind it. Beyond the obvious point of light brightening at the beginning of the day and darkening at the end of the day, there is a daily light progression that we may not perceive. It allows us to experience every color of the light spectrum within one 24 hour period. Much of this progression has to do with the nitrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere scattering the light waves coming from the sun and making the sky appear blue.
At sunrise, we see more reds and oranges, while other colors, like greens, blues, and purples, appear darker and more muted. Then, as the morning progresses, yellow light becomes the dominant color we tend to associate with sunlight. Meanwhile, the “yellow” sunlight reflected upon the so-called blue of the sky intensifies the color of anything that is green up until noon. Then this same light/color progression begins to reverse itself throughout the remainder of the day until the sun sets. As the sun returns to its lowest point on the horizon, the light returns to a red-orange hue, and then gradually fades into the blues and violets associated with night, illuminated by what we perceive as the white light of the moon.
And so it is with life. Change happens daily, from moment to moment, and life never stays the same. Like the changing of light rays throughout the day, many of these changes are so subtle, they are often not observed in the moment, such as the growth of our children, or our own aging process. For example, a parent may not clearly see the day-to-day growth occurring within the physical development of their own child, until one day, they happen to notice the child’s clothes are suddenly too short/small. Likewise, we may not discern our own aging process until we see a picture of ourself from as few as five years prior, and suddenly we are face-to-face with our own change.
As an educator, I sometimes measure life in terms of an August to July school year, rather than the typical January to December calendar year, depending upon what is being measured. Nonetheless, I recognize, now more than ever, that time is fluid, and it matters not how I measure time because it continues to flow and stream like the daily progression of light.
That being said, these past 12 months have been full of joys, changes, and of course, challenges. Many of these changes were immediately as visible as a bright sunrise over the Ohio River. While others shifts were less visible, but nonetheless impactful. Then there were those challenging dull hue moments that accompany the colors of night that felt as long as evening shadows. In fact, there were moments when it felt like I was riding life’s carousel, returning, again and again, to the same point as if progress was at a standstill.
And yet, now I can look back and see that, indeed, even if I wasn’t directly observing it, change was occurring. While my eyes may not directly witness every sunrise, nor catch sight of all of night’s blues and violets, these events still occur–without or without my direct detection. An invisible force, a guiding hand, if you will, greater than you and I can comprehend, maintains this on-going, ever-moving cycle of change. It is ever present, even during those darkest, bluest nights when we often feel alone with the shadow-side of life and wonder if the darkness will ever abate.
Ultimately, the darkness ebbs, and the light does begin to flow, but precisely as the light/colors of the day must go through their unique progression, so too must the solutions and resolutions to those dark and lonely life challenges. Life, like light, will go on and will continue, along with the Source, the maker of light and life. Therefore, we must surrender to this knowledge. Surrender to the what is, and to what will be; surrender to the notion that we are not in-control.
The lesson for me this 2022-2023 year, and it is a tough morsel to swallow, is that the only guarantee of life, like the light progression of our day, is change. While I can try to control certain factors, such as schedule and routine, the choices I make, or even how I measure time, for the most part, what will be, will be.
Thus, as long as I wake up, whether I rise with the cool dark blue of the predawn hours, or I get up with the bright orange and red light of sunrise, there is a Source shining, not only within me, but throughout all of life. Therefore, as the light surrenders, rather than falls, to its daily course of change, it is likewise my job to see the illuminated gift of each day as I ride the ups and downs of this carousel called life.