Patricia Hofer

Christ’s constant companionship

Alone with Thee, amid the mystic shadows,
 The solemn hush of nature newly born;
 Alone with Thee in breathless adoration,
 In the calm dew and freshness of the morn. (Harriet Beecher Stowe 1855)

Perhaps the sunrise plays a chord in the human soul because the sun’s appearing is so beautifully out of our control, so effortless and certain for us—it just happens! Such passive involvement gives us peace. While we humans tend to focus on tomorrow or next week or the coming years, nature’s rhythms capture for us the “calm dew and freshness” of the moment, the newness of a single day lying before us. That could explain why Stowe herself had the habit of getting up at 4:30, walking and thinking in the freshness of the early morning.

And yet, as relaxing and inspiring as nature can be, Stowe’s poem is also encouraging us to open ourselves to something more, to look up and away from the path at our feet. Nature may appear to be “newly born” each morning, but it opens its eyes with no sense of the past or wonder for the future. Natural things have no sense of themselves, no ability to step back and appreciate or evaluate. Only human consciousness has that.

But this conscious person that we are inside, this subjectivity that we have, might also make us uncertain sometimes. There’s nothing simple about faith and rationality and self-knowledge. We can easily begin to think that we’re carrying the burden of who we are all by ourselves. But we’re not. The Creator’s breath of life, the source of our consciousness, has never stopped flooding us with believing and connectedness. Once we open our hearts to Jesus Christ, we’re always companioned. As Stowe rejoices, we’re always “alone with Thee.”

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