I have had a variety of fearsome
experiences in my life, but the one that was most gut-shaking happened early in our marriage before our children were born. I awoke early one morning and lay quietly in bed musing about various nondescript
items of my life - how insulted I was when my visiting sister-in-law polished the door knobs in our rented house (I hadn't even realized they could shine) - what to do about dinner, that constant recurring responsibility - I'd like to make Spanish rice
, but my husband considers it a poor excuse for dinner - I'd have to plan something simple because I had scouts that afternoon.
The night was almost breaking, and I looked over to the window to watch the sky brighten with the blaze of dawn.
"It's a shame," I thought, "that I don't awaken early enough to see the sunrise more often."
In the pollen laden area of the Midwest where we lived, sunsets were the most spectacular element of beauty in my life. Often the refraction of light painted the sky from one horizon to another, inspiring me to poetry, to awe, and even to transcendence at times.
"The sun rises are no doubt just as fine," I thought, "and if I weren't so lazy I could double my premiums of beauty."
As I watched the reddening ebb and flow of light through the window, I reflected, "It's nice to be able to lie in bed and watch the scarlet sky - a lazy man's dream of delight." I looked at my sleeping husband by my side and wondered if I should awaken him to share the experience.
"I'll get up and look out the window so I can see the total sky," I decided. "Perhaps that will awaken him."
I rose and walked over to the window and, as I moved, a throb of fear grabbed my throat. This is the north window!" I realized. "The sun always rises in the East. What on earth is happening?"
I ran over to the bed and awakened my husband, roughly shaking his shoulders.
"Get up!" I said. "The sun is off its axis! It's rising in the North!"
"What do you mean?" he questioned stupidly, still doused with sleep.
"Just look," I said excitedly. "Just look out the window at the sun rise It's in the North window!"
Awake at last, he jumped to his feet and joined me at the window. He opened the sash, and we both looked out together. Sure enough, the flames of sunrise stretched across the Northern sky as far as we could see, but when we turned to the East window, the sky was dark with night.
This was before Bataan, before Hiroshima, before Pearl Harbor - an era of time when man's concept of the physical world was compact and secure. We looked at each other in terror, two youngsters who thought they were grown up, facing the treat of annihilation.
"What shall we do?" I whispered. "The sun always rises in the East. It's just one of those things that always has been and always will be."
"I don't know, he responded. "Just wait, I guess, and see what happens." We stood there shivering from the cold night air blowing in at the window, laced with the fear of the unknown, and holding hands in the silence.
Then we heard a siren. My husband sprang into action.
"Get dressed," he said. "We'd better go and see what we can find out about this!"
We threw some clothes on over our nightclothes with trembling hands, ran down the stairs and out of the house to the car. The cold night air turned our shivers to shakes, but we left the windows of the car down so we could follow the sound of the siren.
We got there before it collapsed. The biggest church in town was in full blaze, lighting the northern sky.
While others ran around wringing their hands in despair at this grave disaster, my husband and I looked at each other and grinned. "It's a terrible thing to lose a big church like that," we agreed, "but it's nice to know the sun still rises in the east."
We watched the sun as we returned slowly home, brightening the Eastern sky with a steady yellow light. "The sun rise is not so spectacular as most of then sunsets I see," I thought to myself. "Perhaps it's just as well that I usually sleep through them."
I haven't been a placid mate. I'm such a peculiar combination of qualities that could lead to greatness, perhaps. In my case it generally leads to confusion. My husband likes it, though. He's the quiet type - the gyroscopic stabilizer of my life - and he needs someone to stabilize as much as I need him.