My favorite time of day is sunrise.
I wake up generally every day between 5:30 and 6 AM. This leaves me enough time to make a breakfast big enough for five, and sneak in a meditation practice before (literally) running out the door for a glimpse of first light.
There’s something amazing about the sunrise, a truly awe-inspiring magic to it. It’s as if the Earth holds still for a moment, pausing to hang in perfect balance between the dark and the light.
Just when you might begin to wonder which way the world will turn, the sun peeks her head above the horizon, and everything becomes gilded in gold.
Lucky for me, lately in Southern California, the sunrises have become ever more spectacular. A region I had only ever known as dry—a parched land filled with old, twisted oak trees, brittle sage, and crispy meadow grasses—has been transformed by months of rain into something that I never could have imagined.
New streams run through old eroded beds. Waterfalls can be heard in the hills. The grasses have turned green, and flowers have bloomed. The morning air has a refreshing heaviness to it. Some nights, we fall asleep to the gentle tap of rain droplets on the roof.
I have heard frogs in places that used to resemble the desert areas of the Southwest. I pass California poppies on trails that used to be covered only in dust. The birds sing, and two new owls have appeared in the canyon behind my apartment.
And, perhaps most amazingly, the always beautiful sunrises have become shimmering promises of only more life-giving rain to come. The light catches the clouds in soft pinks and golds, and bright colored streaks arch across the sky ahead of the storms.
Of course, the rain has forced a whole host of issues into the public consciousness, including storm runoff, outdated sewage systems, the proliferation of plastic trash, and agricultural pollution. The ocean sometimes looks nearly brown after the storms—less than appetizing to anyone interested in participating in the area’s water sports. And landslides happen regularly in the big storms, even closing parts of the Pacific Coast Highway and some of the canyon roads for hours (or days), as work crews struggle to haul away dirt and boulders.
But my goodness, what a gift it is to see a place come back to life. What a miracle to watch the power of rain transform a place. What a humbling experience to realize how deeply we really are at the mercy of Nature, as many efforts as we throw up to try to control her.
I say a little thank you now as I head out to the hills or out to the sea for sunrise. I say a thank you for the storm clouds, and for the rain. I say a thank you for this amazing change in fortune, for the brief reprieve from years of drought. I say a thank you for the California poppies, and the rejuvenated oak trees. I say a thank you for the opportunity to see a place as it once was–to see how it could become again.
In life, there really is only one constant state: change. And yet, I will embrace this new minuscule turn in the Earth’s long history with everything I’ve got. This is, after all, what is only asked of us. These are the moments that truly rejuvenate our fight for a better planet.