Follow-Up to WATER Meditation with Cheryl Nichols      

Welcoming the Morning Light

Monday February 6, 2023 7:30 PM

Video can be found at:

Thanks to Cheryl Nichols for opening our meditation with insightful remarks.

Cheryl Nichols is a retired teacher who keeps on teaching in her weekly tutoring with immigrant women. She is a regular volunteer at St. Camillus Food Pantry in Silver Spring, MD and the ‘keeper of the flame’ for the local women-church group, SAS, Sisters against Sexism. She collaborates with the Religious of Jesus and Mary in their work in Haiti though now more from afar than in person as she did for several years when she taught there. We count on her at WATER as a volunteer, always willing to lend a hand whether stuffing envelopes or driving someone to the airport. Few people match Cheryl’s generosity of spirit and busy life of giving, giving, giving.

She began with her own reflections on the importance of the early morning hours.

Welcoming the Morning Light

Not everyone “likes” February—it’s still winter and often the coldest month—but I look forward to February, counting days from the Winter Solstice in December and especially taking note of the minuscule increases in daylight. Initially, the additional minute of light is at sunset, but by late January, the morning sunrise begins earlier by one minute each day.

I get up early, usually waking up by 6 am, and, after taking out my dog and giving her breakfast, I get a cup of coffee and begin my day in prayer. After months of beginning and ending prayer in darkness, by February, morning light begins to fill the sky. I call this “first light,” and it’s about 40 minutes before the actual sunrise.

For me this first light symbolizes a presence of the Divine, of grace as it quietly appears. Not that God isn’t present before the light, but for me, this first light is a re-awakening of God’s presence, and I welcome it to give me grace for the day (my morning mantra, as I shared at the end of our discussion: Blessed be this day and all that it brings.). I feel energized by the light, not so much for doing, but for being, especially for being open to all that happens during the day.

When I thought about a prayer to use for our opening this evening, Mary Oliver’s poem, “Why I Wake Early” immediately came to mind. When I first read her poem, I felt as though she had written it for me! I don’t live in the same environment, close to nature, that Mary did. In fact, I live in the city, with no view of a horizon, and with buildings and bushes and utility poles right out my back door. But none of that obscures this first light.

Mary Oliver herself is going to read her poem for us (thanks to Patrice) via YouTube; and the picture for our prayer time is one I took of morning light about a year ago. Let’s listen to Mary read “Why I Wake Early.”

Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver (Boston: Beacon Press, 2005)

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and crotchety–

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

Link to Krista Tippet and Mary Oliver:

For information on Mary Oliver:


This was a powerful springboard to meditation after which people offered reflections. One said that a lack of light can contribute to depression which the Divine is light. Another spoke of the Australian flag with the Southern Cross constellation while the newer Aboriginal flag has a full sun on it. Morning people and night people explained their ways. One participant spoke of forever starting over, trying anew to take advantage of the monist, citing the Buddhist teaching, “today my days are diminished by one.”

Thanks to Cheryl and to all who participated.