The Softest of Sunrises

Written by on February 9th, 2014 // Filed under Blog, Photography

I couldn’t figure out why I was listening to “Rainbow in the Dark” by Dio in my dream. As I drifted from unconsciousness I was disoriented and once I realized I was on a mattress on the floor of my girlfriend’s apartment in Cedar City, I quickly realized that Ronnie’s serenade was my alarm clock, signaling my 5:30am wake–up call.

Zion National Park is a solid hour from Cedar City, and my goal was to make it to the park before sunrise at 7:30. As I reached for my phone, and as RJD “[cried] out for magic,” the silence was punctuated by these words, forever burned into my psyche:

Andy Earl 12:13am: “Not going to be at the gym in the morning. We lost the baby tonight. Starting the delivery process.”


Heartbreak comes knocking every so often, and this modern rendition of the familiar theme struck my best friend and his sweet wife in the form of their unborn daughter Indira, who passed away suddenly in utero late Wednesday after 35 weeks of pregnancy. The news cast a sullen air upon my morning, and as I went about my routine in preparation for the sunrise shoot, I couldn’t get it out of my head.

Court of the Patriarchs, Zion National Park

Highway 17 seemed darker and more gloomy than on previous visits, and when I finally pulled into the parking area near the Court of the Patriarchs, I very nearly didn’t get out of my car, citing my negative mood as justification for not taking the pictures for which I had driven 50 miles. But as I gazed up at the three incredibly impressive peaks, named ofter the Old Testament patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, I was reminded of the story in Genesis when Jacob and Esau, the twin sons of Isaac, had yet to be born:

“And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD.” — Genesis 25:22

As the day heightened, and the sunlight began to illuminate the tips of the Patriarchs, my shutter began the process of opening and closing rapidly, letting the light of day cast itself on the sensor, which took those photons and translated that light energy into quantifiable data, organized and interpreted for immediate playback on my LCD screen. I couldn’t help but think maybe it’s a lesson for all of us, particularly in hard times—those times when we, like Rebekah, ask of God, “…Why am I thus?”

The Watchtower from near the park entrance. Zion National Park
The Watchtower just after sunrise. Zion National Park


If we really want light to be imprinted on our souls, we first need to open ourselves to its radiance. Whether your higher power is like mine, or maybe you prefer some sort of other existential communion with yourself—or somewhere in between—sometimes we need to take the requisite time for the light of the Lord to make its impression on our hearts and minds. If we don’t stop—if we don’t take that moment in the day to deliberately be open to what the universe is trying to tell us—we might just miss it. Because sometimes the sunrise is soft and melancholy to fit the mood, and we run the risk of under-appreciating it.

I hope we won’t.

Main Canyon Overlook near Pine Creek. Zion National Park

Leave a Comment