The coolness of the riverbank,
And the whispering of the reeds
Daybreak is not so very far away
Enchanted and spellbound,
In the silence they lingered
And rowed the boat as the light grew steadily strong
And the birds were silent
As they listened to the heavenly music
And the river played the song
The wind in the willows and the piper at the gates of dawn
The wind in the willows and the piper at the gates of dawn…
-Van Morrison-Piper at the Gates of Dawn
This morning I was up at 4:30. Alone in the early morning hours, I’ve learned to appreciate the stillness before the busyness of the day begins. It’s my time to read, think, write, and pray.
Sitting at my desk thus, I heard an owl calling. I quickly turned off the inside lights and opened my window to better see and hear what was going on outside. I sat in anticipatory calm, the coolness of the pre-dawn breeze a gentle balm to my heart and mind.
A second owl began to answer the first and so began a most welcome opportunity to apprehend the beauty and gift of God’s greatness in creation. As my eyes adjusted to the semi-darkness outside, I was thrilled to catch a glimpse of an owl in flight, skimming high in the treetops and silhouetted against the imminent break of day.
What a gentle mystery is the owl’s call! It is a mingling of enchantment and nostalgia, the solemn longing for something just out of reach. Other birds’ songs are quite eloquent to be sure, yet straightforward in their expression. But the owl, reluctant to reveal too much, reserves a secret reservoir of insight and sagacity for patient souls intent on deciphering what it is he is trying to say.
Twenty minutes or so passed. One owl would call, the other would answer. Captivated by the present and afraid I would miss the miracle if I were to surrender the moment too soon, I waited, listening and spellbound.
As the sky blushed pink with morning, the owl lifted effortlessly from its resting place and glided eastward just as the mockingbird sang its exuberant welcome to the dawning of a new day.