The Challenge of the Dawn
by FRANK B. WHITNEY
UNITY SCHOOL OF CHRISTIANITY
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
Each dawning of a new day is in a sense an entirely new experience to you. At this morning's dawn a strange thing happened in your life. The curtains of night that had seemingly hid you in a vestibule of darkness were opened wide and you looked upon a new world. Some of the things of your past life — unpleasant things perhaps — were forgotten and your soul was purified of all that was sordid and unholy. The dark experiences of yesterday you found in the darkness and stillness of the night to be as nothing. For a while possibly all your past became as nought while in the darkness of night your soul breathed a prayer heavenward and your Spirit touched your heart with a sense of love and desire for the things of God, the things of reality. Such may be the experience of night and of sleep if we infold ourselves in prayer and know that "underneath are the everlasting arms."
This vestibule between yesterday and today, the past and the present, then and now — is it not a vestibule between two worlds? In it do we not cast off the unholy tatters of an old existence only to be clad in the raiment of holiness, newness, and youthful expectancy? On the unseen side of life, the side unseen by eyes too heavy to behold things of dazzling brightness, are we not prepared for a new day, for a glorious dawning, for the fulfillment of new hopes and of our prayerful desire?
Are not dawn and sleep but some sort of purgatorial cleansing to free us from earthly and heavy and darkened thoughts of yesterday only to instill in our mind and heart something of heavenly beauty, ecstasy, joy, and shining glory — the dawning of a new day? What a joy for the soul to take up that which is seemingly a burden and know that it is light! What an opportunity to be the new man that you hope to be in a new world! What a chance to say au revoir to habits of bondage and good morning to a new life free from all sense of bondage and limitation!
Possibly in some mystical sense there is something of our own spirit abiding in the sun as it looks at us from the horizon and says good morning to us, something that would expect to see us arraying ourselves in high and holy thoughts, clothing ourselves in wisdom, joy, love, courage, and faith. If we have caught the vision of a new day, the challenge of its dawn, we greet it purified of yesterday's mistakes and enthused with today's promises and opportunities.
Persons with leaden and clouded vision awaken with the thought of just another day. Those who catch the high vision see a new world of rare delight and behold themselves as both guest and master of the world, its victor and its lord. The spirit of the new day — and surely the new day has its spirit just as does everything of freshness and vitality—the spirit of the dawn sounds a trump and a note that heralds the approach of new opportunities for us, the fulfillment of some righteous desire, the answer to some cherished prayer.
Shall we carry into the new day yesterday's grief and loss and pain? Shall we let yesterday's limiting thoughts of ourselves and others be our thoughts for today? Do you not see that today would be but yesterday to you if today you lived in yesterday's thoughts and experiences? There are those who never experience the joy of a new dawn because their mind is so firmly fixed on the unhappiness and defeat of yesterday.
The dawn challenges you to behold yourself in a new day, a new world, a new life. In order that you may meet this challenge you need to greet the new day in the spirit of prayer that has power to purify your thought and regenerate you in mind, soul, and body. Pray in the spirit of being ushered into a new existence where you are so taken with ecstasy at what you behold that you are speechless—unable to speak of evil, unpleasant memories, disappointments. You can but voice the joy of beholding the presence of God within and about you. Your new world lies before you. In the triumphant spirit of the Christ within you, you find that after all this new and beautiful world is just something at your feet.
The despondent, the tired of life, the discouraged need to be directed to the new dawn, their new world. They need to behold in the greeting of the sun the smiling face that answers the dismay in their inner heart of hearts: "It can be done. You can achieve. You can succeed." They need to be as a newborn babe bringing with it nothing but its life and its spontaneous marveling at a panorama of delightful surprises.
The new dawn is your time for reincarnation, for laying hold of a new consciousness of your body, for a new appreciation of your health and perfection. The happy memories of yesterday have place in your today only as they have place in Truth and love and life. Yesterday's weaknesses must give place to today's strength. Yesterday's defeat must be lost sight of as you anticipate today's victory. Today's dawn proclaims with all its fervor that you are born again. You are born of Spirit—the Spirit of newness, freshness, vitality.
Do you see the possibilities of a dawn, the opportunities of a new day, the joy of beholding your new world revealed to you at the beginning of a new day? If only all the world could grasp this message of Truth and hope and newness! If every heart at dawning would but catch the vision of all things made new! Do you not see that in Truth nothing of yesterday belongs to you today save that which is of Spirit, of Truth, of God; that which is the eternally substantial of you, that which in Spirit is permanent and enduring?
Take the attitude that this morning you were given a new mind, a renewed consciousness. Possibly yesterday you believed that there were things you could not know. Possibly yesterday you cluttered up your mind with thoughts of darkness, ignorance, sin, evil, fear, hate, and disease. Your new-mindedness must be dedicated to that which is of Truth, holy, good, ennobling, beautiful. You must realize that at dawn your mind became so charged with Truth that there is no room for any belief that is of darkness, fear, and disease.
Take the mental attitude that at dawn your body was charged with new life, health, and strength. Of course you must not hark back to the negative and adverse beliefs about your body that you may have held yesterday. Today is no time to recall yesterday's pains. Today is a new day unrelated to the pains of the past. Each new moment of the day serves to introduce you to new experiences and new victories. Even the moment just gone now belongs to the dead past!
Have you not felt that a new gospel is being proclaimed by teacher and prophet, in church, in school, in the market place, calling all men to a new vision? Do you not see that to be in the vanguard of a new civilization you must hear the voice and message of new hope and accept its bidding? Even as another civilization will sometime replace that of today so must your culture of new ideas replace the old and useless beliefs of yesteryear.
In your heart of hearts you will be called upon to decide today whether or not you have caught the vision of the new day and have met its challenge to be born anew. Today's sunset and nightfall will reveal to you whether or not you have lived to the full the life offered you today. You will ask yourself whether or not you have been true to your indwelling Spirit of truth, whether or not you have been faithful to Christ in the midst of you. To those who catch the message of the dawn even the thought of nightfall belongs to the remote future; so our thought at the close of today must be but relative to that of dawn.
At each dawn a bright and shining path opens before you. It reveals to you new friendships, new occasions to give expression to love, new opportunities to put into practice what your indwelling Spirit of truth has taught you and bid you do. There will never be another day just like this. Today alone can offer today's opportunities and today's joys. Each second of the day will give you a new opportunity to prove to yourself that you have met the dawn's challenge.
Even this message, since you took it up a few moments ago, has given you a new outlook upon life. You have been strengthened and encouraged in your determination to take a new hold on life. The sinews of your mind have been given spiritual power to keep out objectionable beliefs and to entertain only such thoughts as inspire and illumine you. Your new day, your new life, dates from the second when you catch a vision of Truth and try to plant your feet on higher ground.
The consciousness of new life calls upon you to live life anew. Gone forever will be every limiting belief, every thought that you cannot progress and succeed, if you only hold to this vision to the exclusion of all contrary thought. Even as in the past you may have hobbled yourself to some belief or pattern of despair and failure, so must you today catch the high vision of your soul's supremacy and your spirit's victory.
If you answer to the dawn's challenge, you set your feet on a new path and go the way of light and peace. New forces of the dawn attend you and buoy you up and exalt you. A new note of optimism and hope sings in your heart. You feel a new life surging through you to dissipate all that would call you back to things of old. A new sense of victory fills your consciousness, and you know something of what it means to let the world serve you with joy and gladness without being bound to the things of the world.
Man can know springtime in the heart any time that he can catch a vision of the eternal spring of Spirit. He can know eternal youth if he can but behold the great truth of youth's eternity. He can possess the power to be master of all things if he can but catch the meaning of the great secret that the Spirit of God within him is master of all of the world about him.
There are no limitations upon the Truth and Spirit of God and consequently there are none on you, God's perfect child. You need to behold yourself in God's mirror of Truth and to behold there a reflection of what you are in God's sight. You need to reflect often upon the divine idea of man, for you are this perfect idea brought into manifestation. You need to keep out of mind every thought that would limit or bind you in order that you may go forward and upward into the glories of your new day and glorified life.
You will lose all sense of mental and physical darkness and heaviness as you hold to the vision of the new day, the new dawning of your soul's supremacy over things of the world. No walls can confine you when you effect a union with the great universal Spirit of life and freedom. No adverse condition can bind you to itself when you realize your freedom and perfection. Yesterday cannot call you back to it when you feel the call to go onward and forward.
The purpose of the new dawn is to call you away from the shadows of yesterday and bring you into the light of higher truths. You are called upon to walk the path of light, to sing the song of joy, to hear the voice and call of spiritual obedience. You must be faithful to all that would inspire and elevate, all that would exalt and glorify.
Your soul's cry of the past finds its answer in the good that is offered you today. Your ideals of yesteryear become the realities of today's dawning if you can but behold them as your own. Your prayers and aspirations and yearnings find in today's dawning the advent of blessings beyond compare. The great moment of anticipation has arrived. You are now at the threshold of open doors and unlocked treasuries. Will you enter in?
Today will you behold your associates as new companions in a new world, freed from your sense of their limitations? Today will you see neighbor and relative freed from blemish and stain, released from fault and accusation, taking a higher road, heading for the goal long visioned? Today will you release from mind that tense thought which has bound ready for them. To try to live in you and yours to tension, negation, distrust, jealousy, and strife? The new day is heaven's miracle in which your own miracle can take place.
To you who may have placed one faltering foot upon the higher pathway hands and love are extended. To you who may have given up hope in the present life, straining to reach beyond, comes the message of light and exaltation. Catch your vision here and now. Live in Spirit right at this moment. No longer delay and anticipate. Today is your day of fulfillment. From this morning's dawn to this evening's close great joys can come to you. Be ready for them. To try to live in the future is as much of a sin as to bind yourself to the past. In Truth there is only today, in fact only the present moment, with its attendant joys and answered prayer.
Keep your vision clear. "Lay aside every weight" and "run with patience the race" before you. Count over and over the joys that today can give you. Take a new lease on life. Keep your face turned toward the light, the shadows behind you. Find in to-day's promises the fulfillment of whatever joy and blessing you seek.
You cannot be mistaken in following this way of joy and hope. Nothing must be sacrificed, nothing denied you. You go forward with assurance and confidence that the Spirit of God within and about you will bless and serve you. You confidently expect and joyfully receive. You discover the great secret of life that you need only turn to God in order to have Him turn to you. You need only anticipate and expect joyfully the blessings of God in order to have them poured out at your feet. Such is the way of those who catch the higher vision, who be- lieve in the mystical unity between God and man, who are constantly grasping the opportunities of the soul's great dawning, who claim the promises of God and please Him by expecting much of Him in their personal life.
Nothing in all this world has power to challenge you save that Spirit within you which inspires you to move onward and upward. The beginning of a new day sees this challenge given you that you may make the most of your day, that you may find inspiration to make your life fuller and richer. Accept the challenge. Feel that you have within you that which cannot know defeat, that which cannot keep you from gaining higher visions and making newer conquests. The Spirit of God within you is your constant inspiration to do all things to His glory. When you accept the challenge of the dawn, you feel the Spirit of God within you is mighty to do all things through you.
THE SALUTATION OF THE DAWN
Listen to the exhortation of the dawn!
Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course lie all the
Verities and realities of your existence:
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendor of beauty.
For yesterday is but a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision; But today well lived makes
Every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day!
Such is the salutation of the dawn.
— From the Sufi.