The morning rides to work on Tuesday mornings have been growing progressively darker. As fall drifts in, the daylight hours wane. For some time I was judging my punctuality by the irrigation sprinklers at one house along Alhambra Valley Rd. Early in the summer, the irrigation had been running but a short time when I approached and passed the whirring heads dazzling the ivy in the morning sun. As the summer progressed, the Ivy was wetter and wetter by the time I passed, as my departure was delayed to accommodate the later mornings. The ivy was less dazzled by morning sun, and more by passing headlights.
Recently the trip has begun in the dark. A small headlamp, various reflectors on my gear, and a blinking LED taillight are my feeble attempt at safety. As noted in other posts, the real danger (in my opinion) comes from the unfortunate possum, or unfinished road construction lying in my path. I have pressed on none the less and have started out for the past few weeks watching the twinkling stars fade into the morning’s blue sky.
My course winds westward on these mornings, being ideal for early visibility, since the awakening skies at my rear illuminate the road and objects ahead without blinding me in the process. It has been my privilege and joy over the last few weeks to observe the East Bay hills rouse from a mist blanketed slumber. But more than that, the sky has kept me in awe, to the point of extending my trip by several minutes as I withdraw the hurry in order to gaze. The first few minutes are the blackest. However, as my home is in the Bay Area suburbs, the early route is largely illuminated by an array of street lamps and lit storefronts. The few stars visible in the city, along with a predictably fickle moon are my companions before being systematically extinguished by a growing and far superior luminescence. A midnight blue sky slowly emerges as the ink fades.
My ride is a lonely one once the city lights are at my back. Alhambra creek, and its vast fauna accompany me at this point, though silently and stealthily from a distance. I hear more often than see, the deer along the creek, and the rustle of countless smaller creatures often startles me from my reverie. One morning I was intrigued by a Romeo and Juliet pair of raccoons lying only a few feet apart on the descent from the pinnacle of this route. With more than a modest reverence I passed to the side of the duo not willing to sever the romance even at that tragic end.
Recently, by the time I reach the pinnacle, known locally as Pig Farm Hill, the skies have turned from the midnight blue to a deep purple. Again, within minutes, the depths of the color are diluted to a lavender so soft as to be coveted by any seamstress seeking the perfect satin for a 5 year old princess. Further eastward I travel and with the progress comes the first disappointment – the lavender dulls down to drab light gray. For many minutes the gray depresses my outlook and I begin to notice the trails of fog in the surrounding canyons, and even glance down to observe the roughly paved asphalt rushing by below.
The mood is not long lasting. It is within these moments that a transformation is occurring behind me of which mere reflections off my front rim, and the back of my handlebars have given me but a clue. The skies to the east, and my rear have ignited. With radiance of color far more exhilarating than those I’ve experienced to that point, the eastward hills are shadowed, darkened, and then crowned with a brilliance only experienced, not observed. A glance behind reveals the evidences of the source of all the color that can be experienced. Though yet below the ridge of the hills, the greatest orb in our solar system has sent its blinding rays to announce its arrival. Looking again toward the west, the gray skies have again transformed into that color found only behind a child’s crayon sketch of green tree, yellow sun, and black birds. With the same care that a child takes to select that perfect azure crayon for his pastoral masterpiece, our infinitely wise, capable, and sovereign God again withdraws the veil to reveal his revived masterpiece as observed from our small terrestrial spec.
I was awed; possibly not unlike the Psalmist following a dark and damp night upon a middle eastern hillside. His skies no doubt were frequently unveiled with similar extravagance, by our Creator, of whom the future King David wrote “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork . Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.”
I hear God’s voice on those mornings. Not audibly. Rather, I hear that still small voice which rings true for every created being, in which He beckons us to “know that I am God.”