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Fall and Winter mornings have a quality that you often can’t find at other times of the year. Early morning clouds and fog shroud the landscape in a mist that seems to come from another place. If you can block out the traffic and people and distractions, the world can become a serene and mystical place. I love the way everything looks on these mornings. Too bad I don’t love being up early enough to see it. There’s a brief window between 6 and 7:30 am to catch this fleeting moment, a time at which I usually prefer to be curled up in my bed, warm and content underneath the comforting weight of my sheets and blankets.

There are, however, a few mornings when I am up early enough to catch this magic. Three times this week, I caught the beauty of the sun rising up over the landscape as I drove. As it sat low on the horizon, I basked in the warmth of its glow. Soon, it was up above the fog and the clouds, throwing me back into the gloom of a fall morning. Almost on cue, my mind started to drift towards mistakes, regrets, and the negative aspects that had been a part of my life for so long. I crept along the highway, wondering if my life would be better if I had made different decisions.

Sitting at on offramp, waiting to get on a road that would take me to yet another freeway, I looked at my surroundings, my mind still stuck in its neurotic, negative train of thought. As my eyes caught the distant hillside, everything stopped for a moment. There, coming through the thick clouds, was the sun. It wasn’t bright. It wasn’t whole. Instead, it was casting random rays of light on the green ground. If you were standing on that hill, you could have walked five feet in either direction to reach the light of the sun.

Following these rays up, I could see them sporadically shining through the gloom, as if they were inviting those nearby to step into the light and out of the dark. To accept the warmth, after being in the cold and dark. At that instant in time, all the negativity in my mind disappeared. That filtered sunlight on the hillside was the perfect metaphor for the lives that we lead. Life will not always be full of warmth and light. There will be times of darkness and cold and gloom. When we are stuck in that place, it will seem like the sun will never shine on us again. If we are in the dark too long, we can become afraid to leave it. Light and sun and warmth scares us because it means leaving what has become our “normal.”

But the sun is there, behind the clouds. There is always light and warmth waiting out there for us. Sometimes we have to wait for it. Other times, we have to seek it out. When you are stuck in the dark, afraid that you will never be warm again, what will you do? Will you stay there because it is easier? Or will you take a risk? Will you walk the five feet to where the sun is shining down, where you can feel warmth again? Where you can feel alive again?

Every time we choose to walk into the sun, we do so knowing that there’s a chance we will face a period of darkness. But we also know that eventually we will come out into the light again. Our lives will always be filtered, just like the sun through a foggy, fall morning.

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