Photo by Stacey Truman

Between the dawns

Living the waking moments

by Ken Rummer

ROY G BIV — that’s the memory hook for the top to bottom colors of the rainbow. I’m seeing them upside down in the early sky, all except for the R and the V. So far, neither red nor violet are in view. 

My youngest granddaughter calls it “wakey-wakey time.” Homer called it “rosy-fingered Dawn.” 

Orange to yellow, to a surprising pale green, to a light blue, the northeast sky brightens in near-solstice earth-tilt. Streetlights show as points of white, an old cedar tree stands in silhouette, and the few scattered clouds that minutes ago were glowing like charcoal could now pass for relatives at a flamingo family reunion.

During the winter months, a friend made it a spiritual practice to watch the sun come up each morning. I’m not ready to commit to every day, but I am feeling alive in this moment, tuned in, sensors on deep-scan.

A snatch of a psalm comes to mind. “Awake, my soul! … I will awake the dawn” (Psalm 108:1-2 NRSV). I don’t know if I’ve done anything to wake up this dawn, but it surely seems to be awakening me.

Who waits for the dawning of this day? A woman in labor? A family in the public chairs near the ICU? A night worker almost finished with his shift? A person in hospice granted one more morning? A farmer checking on the new chicks under the warming light?

Me? I’m watching the fingers of light and shadow form as I sit up with an unsettled stomach. A violin gig for church is on the calendar for today. It’s been over a year since my last performance, a recording of “You Raise Me Up” made on a phone and a laptop. I’m feeling rusty and not quite prepared.

The upper clouds now reflect in white and gray, while the ones behind the roofline of the houses across the way still carry deeper tones of purply pink.

It’s time for the heron’s stealthy walk through the edge waters of the pond. It’s time for coffee timers to give their go-ahead to the robots that brew the beans. It’s time for the solar disc to roll up over the rim of the world and make me look away for brightness.

Some speak of dawn as the first glow in the eastern sky. Others apply the term to the first sight of the sun itself. I’ve been witnessing the ambiguous middle ground, what I once heard described as the time “between the dawns.”

But now, shadows stretch along the ground like Giacometti sculptures, narrow and long, and the robins sound reveille. The sun is up on a Sunday, the one day each week an actual newspaper is delivered to our door. 

Time to see if it is here.

Ken Rummer writer

Ken Rummer, Teaching Elder, PCUSA, Honorably Retired

Ken Rummer writes about life and faith from the middle of Iowa by the High Trestle Trail. Previous posts are available at