*1 alarm clock
*Appropriate clothing for the weather conditions
Set your alarm for 90 minutes before sunrise. Get out of bed, get dressed and have a quick cup of tea.
Turn off the lights and leave the house, shutting the door quietly behind you.
Step out into the darkness.
As you walk, use your senses to take in everything around you and within you.
Notice how different your world looks in the black of night; how your eyes strain to make sense of shadows and shifting shapes.
If there are streetlamps, notice how sterile and flat their light is, compared with natural, living light. If there is frost, watch how it glitters like diamonds under your feet.
Feel the chill of the lingering night air on your cheeks, the back of your neck, your fingers.
Listen to the stillness, and to the occasional sounds emerging from it: a jogger’s footsteps, a distant car, a bird practicing for the dawn chorus.
Notice how carefully you are treading, so as not to stumble – or worse – to step in something unpleasant.
Breathe in the black air and walk on.
When you are immersed in darkness, steeped in it, let your thoughts turn to what darkness means to you: literally, symbolically, spiritually.
Think for a while about the darkness, confusion and suffering in the world: long ago, now, tomorrow; far away, here in this town, here in these houses, here in your heart. Feel the longing, the aching for light, for clarity, for hope, for redemption.
Walk on, still hidden from others but now a little less hidden from yourself.
About half an hour before the sunrise is “officially” due, start to look to the East. Watch what is happening in the sky. Breathe it in.
I can’t tell you what you will see. Every sunrise is unique. Yours is yours and mine is mine, and even if we walked together we would see it differently. There are sunrises that would break a heart and sunrises that would mend it again. Sometimes that first light is as tender as a baby’s cheek. Sometimes it’s a peacock parade of colour. Sometimes, there is no colour: just a subtle shift from black, to dark grey to off-white, as though an invisible dimmer switch is slowly being turned. But even then, there will be something beautiful to notice, somewhere. Just look a bit harder – and know that the greyness will not last. The sun will surely rise again. And again.
As the light swells around you, take the tired, jaded, and somewhat grubby wick of the candle in your heart. Let it be lit.