For years, the dawning of a new day has symbolized hope. Gabriela Mistral, a Chilean poet and the first Latin American winner of Nobel Prize for Liberature, explores this theme in her poem, Daybreak. As the night wanes, the poet waits expectantly for the sun, her heart swelling to make room for the fiery cascade of the Universe to enter the cavern of her soul. The power and glory of the new day fills her to overflowing, leaving her at once breathless and erupting into spontaneous song. It's the humble reception of grace, found in things both lost and recovered, that eventually overcomes the paralyzing darkness resident in our souls. Vanquished, the Gorgon night loses its power and flees.
Coming across this poem, I was reminded about the story of a woman named Debbie Wagner, a survivor of brain tumor surgery. In an article written by Laura Coffey, Debbie related how the aftermath of her surgeries left her without the ability to pursue some of her favorite pasttimes, including reading, writing and mathematics. Five or six months after her surgery she took up painting. "It just happened, she explained. "I had to express myself." One morning, after rising early from a fitful sleep, she found herself gazing at a vibrant Kansas sunrise. “I thought to myself, ‘I wonder if I can paint that?’ And I did!” Wagner said. "It was so exhilarating that I did it again the next day, and the next day...Now the devotion to it is effortless for me because I get such a rush from it.”
Wagner's approach to life captures the essence of Mistral's poem. By facing the morning daybreak with an open and expectant heart, she finds herself on the receiving end of grace. As she mentions in the article,
“When I look at a sunrise, it represents a new beginning. I’m just so happy to be here another day and see my kids do different things and go to dinner with my husband. I suppose that’s the addiction of it — it puts me in a state of mind focused on gratitude.”
As Wagner sits before the sunrise with an open heart, it's not song that erupts from the overfilled cavern of her soul, but paint. And as the colors flow onto the canvas, the night disappears, dissolving into gratitude and a new beginning.
My heart swells that the Universe
like a fiery cascade may enter.
The new day comes. Its coming
leaves me breathless.
I sing. Like a cavern brimming
I sing my new day.
For grace lost and recovered
I stand humble. Not giving. Receiving.
Until the Gorgon night
Note: For more information on Debbie Wagner and her art, you can click here.