“The most wonderful moment of the day is that when creation in its innocence asks permission to be once again…” – Thomas Merton
Without a doubt, my most favorite thing to do is to be present at dawn at a place devoid of human presence and noise. It is my definition of solitude. Thankfully, I am able to celebrate this time of day regularly while surrounded by desert flora and fauna at a secluded spot within Ironwood Forest National Monument. In this desert setting, dawn signifies a “shift change”. The creatures of the night return to their burrows and dens. While creatures of the day emerge. Dawn is that “pointe vierge (‘virgin point’ as noted by Thomas Merton) when I hear birds greeting the sun with chirps and cackles.
Each dawn calls upon my aesthetic self, my spiritual self, and the logical side of me. My aesthetic being basks in the glow of the early light as it paints the Saguaro, the Palo Fierro, and the Palo Verde with a breathtaking gold. My spiritual center offers thanks for the moment as I take in the wholeness of all patterns in Nature because they are interrelated. And, the nerd inside of me seeks to further understand the extent of the sun’s energy on planet Earth.
In addition to setting a rhythm for Earth’s flora and fauna, dawn is the pattern in time that signifies the daily arrival of our highly complex energy source — the sun. An arrival of energy that is a highly connected necessity of life.
David Haskell in his wonderful book, The Forest Unseen, describes this special moment:
“The light and sound energies washing over the mandala find a point of convergence in my consciousness, where their beauty quickens a flame of appreciation. There is convergence also at the start of the energy’s journey, in the unimaginably hot, pressurized core of the sun. The sun is origin of both the dawn’s light and birds’ morning songs. The glow on the horizon is light filtered through our atmosphere; the music in the air is the sun’s energy filtered through the plants and animals that powered the singing birds. The enchantment of an April sunrise is a web of flowing energy. The web is anchored at one end by matter turned to energy in the sun and at the other end by energy turned to beauty in our consciousness.”
It is safe to say that Earth’s connection to the sun’s energy is the most essential, critical, and basic of all connections in Nature. That energy is in two forms. In addition to the heat energy from the Sun’s photons, the earth also receives gravitational energy.
The Sun’s photons in the form of heat energy drive our basic and essential biochemical processes. This heat also drives the Earth’s energy circulation patterns – the winds and the ocean currents.
But in addition, if it weren’t for the sun’s gravitational energy, we would not be locked in the orbit around the sun that allows us to be physically available to receive the benefit of photons from the sun. So, it is the complex interplay of two basic connecting patterns in Nature, heat and gravity, that help insure our survival.
Our sun’s two primary connecting patterns initiate chains of other connecting patterns vital to life on earth.
Dawn ushers in the sun’s heat energy which produces major biochemical changes through photosynthesis in plants. Plants then become the food and fertilizer that connects many of Earth’s creatures into food chains where the herbivores are prey to the carnivores – the “meat eaters”. The sun’s heat also drives Earth’s winds which in turn drive our weather systems. Weather drives the ocean currents. And the gravitational pull of the sun (and moon) produces tidal energy. Our weather, our oceanic currents, and our tides serve to store, transport, and mix the energy that originates with the sun.
Being invisible connections in Nature, light and gravity are great ways to behold Nature. Set aside your personal distractions for a while. Acquire a quiet spirit and sit within a forest, or by a shore, or next to a mountain. With your body relaxed and your mind free of distractions, contemplate the connecting forces of light and gravity and how each observation or sensation is connected to another because of the sun.
Feel the breezes and think about how these gentle winds are connected with the sun’s energy. Absorb the warmth of the sun’s energy. Focus on how this energy becomes a tree. Look at the position of a rock or a mountain. How did gravity put it get there? Think about how the breeze that originates from the sun’s energy affects the life of the bird you are seeing. How does that breeze help your bird acquire food?
If you are enjoying a seashore or an estuary, think about how the sun’s gravitational pull affects the ocean currents and tides that transport nutrients that are ultimately consumed by your bird. Consider the beauty of a storm center. How does the sun’s light and gravitational pull help create such fearsome energy? And, how does that storm cell help nourish the bird?
In considering these things, you are taking a journey of adventure, exploration, and discovery. You are pondering on how everything is connected. In doing so, you are engaging the very lifeblood of our Earth.
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My name is Bill Graham. As a Marine Biologist who has worked in the US and Mexico for 30 years, I am a student of Nature, a teacher, a researcher, and a nature photographer. Through my work, I have acquired an ever growing passion for how everything in Nature is connected. Today, I travel extensively contemplating about, writing about, and photographing Nature’s connections. I also work with conservation projects in the USA and Mexico and mentor talented youth.