The dawn is sprinkling in the east
Its golden shower, as day flows in;
Fast mount the pointed shafts of light;
Farewell to darkness and to sin!
(Aurora iam spargit polum, 7th-8th century)
Photographing the sunrise is an exercise in discipline and anticipation. I must be sure to rise early enough to be at the point where I want to be to make the image. Finding a good place for a sunrise image usually involves scouting out ahead of time where I want to be when the sun rises. It’s important to have a context for the image, some land or water feature against which to photograph the sun, something to distinguish it from the million other sunrise photos out there.
Since the light conditions at this time change rapidly, I photograph the scene from shortly before the sunrise (the blue hour) to shortly after (the golden hour). I never know ahead of time if I will get anything of merit. Clouds can totally obscure the sunrise or add great drama and color to the sky. Not knowing is part of the attraction of sunrise photography. Showing up and being ready is the key thing.
Our liturgical readings in this season of Advent anticipate the coming of the Savior. There is a discipline and an anticipation which is part of our Christian life. The prophets call us to the discipline of a life lived in the Spirit of God. Isaiah tells us to “make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!” (Is 40:3)
What is the wasteland I must navigate through? What clutters my mind and distracts my attention from what is right and good? What roadwork do I need to do in my own life to smooth the way for God? This is the movement of Advent that we are invited into.
In this season of preparation we anticipate not only the celebration of Christmas, but also our increased receptivity to the Lord’s presence and direction in our life, for then “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed” (Is 40:5). It’s up to us to show up and be ready.
“The dawn from on high shall break upon us…” (Lk 1:78)