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A Hundred Sunrises

Only through the photograph of a friend did I see the shades of fireball orange, candy pink, and smoky lavender that painted the sky. When I finally made it outside to let the chickens out this morning, I faced a sky without fanfare at all–a sky that was, by then, an ordinary backdrop to the 6 o’clock hour.

She didn’t mean to sting me. She was only doing her job; she was only defending her hive. Still, it hurt. I, too, was doing my job, collecting a frame to put back into the hive. I leaned in too close to the hive, and I felt the sting hard on the side of my face. Through this small worker bee’s ultimate sacrifice, I learned yet another lesson from the bees.

He didn’t mean to rip the papers. Sprawled on the classroom floor, his face pressed into the cold, nondescript tile. The task, the seemingly simple request of a teacher who was merely doing her job, was too much. He needed to make it go away. All of it. Though he tried, he could not escape the threat; he could not retreat from himself. Much like the guard bee who defends the glistening trove of honey deep within the hive, our boy could not bear to face what has been locked inside since his earliest days.

Another ground ball skips past the ever-distracted little league second baseman. Nobody cheers him on or even seems to take note, though he shows up to every single practice. The fans in the bleachers save their applause for yet another home run off the bat of the flashy, well-celebrated star-of-the-team. There will be a day, though, when the little league player fields the ball cleanly for the first time. His team may not win, but that will hardly matter.

There will be no induction into the National Honor Society for the C student, even as she struggles into the night to practice her vocabulary words. Working diligently at the algebraic equations, she knows that she has no chance for an academic scholarship. She does the best she can. Still, it’s not good enough. It’s not extraordinary by another’s standards. When she helps her friend study to pass an important test, though, she will feel the magic.

One day my child, too, will sit in his chair and finish his papers, turning in his assignments without fanfare. He will no longer yield to all of the things that are beyond his control, all the things that make the hard stuff come to the surface. We see hints of sunshine through the cloud cover. There are quiet days when demons do not stand in the way. There are days when he feels the others understand. They stand back, and he lets them in.

I dare not open the hives on a cloudy day. The bees know best, and they will show me the way, if I take time to listen. For days on end, the sun rises in nondescript hues, unworthy of photographs. The small steps lead me to the chickens, one morning after another. It is the repetition, the sameness, the ordinary day-after-day captured as the collective sunrises of a hundred hard days that holds the real importance, that brings me to turn to the vast beauty before me, captured unwittingly at the hand of a friend.

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