A friend is coming today. Her plane will land in a few short hours. We’ve known each other nearly 25 years and haven’t seen each other in over five. She’ll be here less than a week so our time together is precious and fleeting, as are we. I took the day off from work so I can meet her at the airport and planned to sleep in this morning, yet still I awoke at my programmed 4:30 a.m., rested and eager for the day.
I had the time, the spaciousness to go for a walk to the ocean, something I have only carved out space for on the weekends and the occasional summer evening with its still stretched hours of daylight. Stepping into the dawn I was startled by the change of fabric unfurled across my neighbourhood. No cars, no people, a silence only tipped by a distant truck rattling over pavement and cafe tables popping up like mushrooms on the warming sidewalks.
The ribbon of path curling along the ocean’s edge was an open canvas of damp grass and blushing rosehips, strokes of ivory clouds painted through the robin egg sky. I listened as the sea water became waves and succumbed on the sand and pebbles of the beach below. I passed perhaps six people and we greeted each other with eyes of presence and heart-opened smiles as we greeted each other with a joyous “good morning”.
Unlike the weekend gaggle of two and four legged beings vying for sidewalk and speed, it was a welcome acknowledgement of our place in this time. On those Sunday walks there are no “good mornings”. At the most it is “mornin'”, barely two syllables grunted to passers by with nary a glance up from our coffees or our partners or our digital appendages. “Mornin'” is more of a statement of the obvious (it being before noon, after all) than a real expression of connection. Today it was a gift to see others in the bright stillness of the day’s beginning and hear the words “good morning” prayed from smiling lips.
I’ll be leaving soon to catch the bus to the airport. The day is opening, filling with the sounds and sights of a city moving too fast. Yet somewhere along the way I trust I will meet another person. It is already a good morning.
By Denise Levertov
Sometimes the mountain
is hidden from me in veils
of cloud, sometimes
I am hidden from the mountain
in veils of inattention, apathy, fatigue,
when I forget or refuse to go
down to the shore or a few yards
up the road, on a clear day,
that witnessing presence.
From Denise Levertov: Selected Poems, by Denise Levertov