No One Spoke

Friends and I enjoyed sun, sand, and surf with other beachgoers on a recent Saturday. Sitting slathered in sticky sunscreen beneath our umbrellas, we pointlessly brushed sand from our legs as we discussed evening plans. The seagulls overhead laughed louder than the swimmers splashing in nearby waves while those of us on the beach napped, read, or simply watched people. My friends discussed how relaxing it was and how nice it would be to sleep late the next morning.

Sleep late? I mentioned to them that we only get so many sunrises in a lifetime. Shouldn’t we get up to look at a few?

They stared blankly for a second then shook their heads in unison. No.

In the wee hours of the next morning, alone in the dark, I started the short walk from house to beach guided only by dim lights above the boardwalk. It was eerily quiet at that hour with just the rustling sound of trees in the breeze and the muffled crash of waves in the distance. As I approached the boardwalk to make my way onto the beach through an opening in the weathered sand-fencing I assumed I would be alone. I was not.

An older couple wearing t-shirts and shorts made their way in the dark. Holding hands, they passed through the opening in the fence and shuffled slowly through the cool sand. Behind them, a woman draped in cameras with lenses of various lengths stopped to remove her shoes before stepping off the boardwalk and onto the beach. Just after her came an elderly man carrying a tiny dog on his arms. Together, silently in the darkness, we walked towards the water.

Already on the beach were three young girls huddled together on a large towel. Sitting cross-legged in over-sized sweatshirts, they faced the water saying nothing. Near them, two men in baseball caps sipped coffee and stared towards the horizon. Even with such an expanse of empty beach available we gravitated towards one another. No one spoke.

Out on the horizon, the palest of pinks began to push away some of the blackness.

We turned to face the faint light. As if a few feet would make a difference in the millions of miles that separated us, we all drifted a bit closer to the water in the direction of the already brighter pink sky. In that first light I noticed we had not been alone. Standing along the higher edges of the beach, together in the soft sand by the dunes, were seagulls by the hundreds. They made no sound as the bright pink horizon turned a pale orange.

The pale orange became bright orange as the sky overhead traded blackness for gray-blue. The bright orange quickly morphed to an even brighter orange. Almost immediately it was red and then instantly a fiery pinpoint of brightness gave way to the blinding glow of the rising sun.

Cameras clicked to the left, someone caught their breath to the right, but no one spoke.

The fiery ball moved rapidly above the horizon while we watched. As if on cue, hundreds of still silent seagulls lifted from the sand as one and floated towards and then over the waves. They passed between us and the perfect fiery circle that now hovered completely above the horizon.

Again, cameras clicked to the left, someone caught their breath to the right, but no one spoke.

The sky overhead was now a pale blue. We watched the still bright circle lose some of its fire and changed to a yellowish-orange. Reluctant to leave, we stared over the water a little more, smiled at each other, then made our way across the sand and back up to the boardwalk. No one spoke.

None of us had met before nor are we likely to meet again. In all of the days leading up to that morning we had carried on with our own lives unaware that the others existed. It’s even possible that not one of us had a single thing in common with another, but for a few minutes we were completely bound together in silent darkness as we waited by the ocean for a beautiful ball of light.

I was behind the elderly man with the little dog as our group, still silent, plodded up the beach and back onto the boardwalk. On a bench by the opening in the snow-fence two women ate donuts and loudly discussed their plans for the day. Obviously shocked when our group appeared from behind a clump of seagrass to file through the opening in the fence, they stopped talking, held their donuts at their mouths, and stared.

“Where did you come from?” one woman finally said laughing. She bit her donut.

“Church.” the elderly man said.

“Church?” the woman asked, puzzled.

Several in our group paused to listen to this interaction.

“Yep.” the elderly man explained. “Sunrise service.”

I wondered about possible reactions from others in our impromptu group, whether they might disagree, take offense even, but with smiles on their faces they nodded and moved along to start the day.

No one spoke.

Stuart M. Perkins

325 Comments

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325 responses to “No One Spoke

  1. Ginni J Poole

    Wow..just wow!

  2. “As if a few feet would make a difference in the millions of miles that separated us, we all drifted a bit closer to the water ”
    True , we all are connected by nature and beauty of nature. Makes us feel ourselves and dwell in the depths of our existence. The serenity and power of the sunlight at sunrise evokes a sense of rebirth as if it is filling and pouring in the cups of our souls ,its energy . Rays of hope and charisma to live that day , rejenuvates our moods and uplift our spirits . We do come closer to life ,a few feet does matter.

  3. I’m so glad no one spoke.

  4. Such a powerful connection of kindred spirits. If we could bottle that positive energy, some of the world’s troubles might be solved.

  5. what a beautiful story, i too am glad that nobody spoke except for what the elderly gentleman said after you had left, so true!

  6. Jim McKeever

    Sunrise service indeed! Great stuff…

  7. Elegant prose, I live near the water – you have inspired me to watch the sunrise.

  8. Garrie Madison Stoutimore

    Who needs words when God speaks? Delightful post!

  9. I loved your post. Marvelous! For the past 20 years I’ve walked by the water at the beginning of the day. Since I walked by the clock, there was not always a sunrise, but I saw many. All were worthy of reverence and silence. I’m so glad you shared yours.

  10. At this moment you realize that everybody around you has a unanimous state of body and reaction; a similar state of being. Everything becomes the indifferent. There is nothing to be said or done under such a spell. Nature is indeed spectacular.

  11. What a beautiful piece, Stuart. I live at the beach and have never done what you described, but you have inspired me to attend sunrise service.

  12. Reblogged this on Praying for Eyebrowz and commented:
    Absolutely perfect! Please read more at storyshucker.wordpress.com

  13. This was good, really good. Had to share via twitter.

  14. Beautifully done in simple words. Like a classic weaving in a tapestry. Soothing as usual. Thank you.

  15. hotlady1965

    love it

  16. hotlady1965

    Reblogged this on Confessions of a sexually repressed woman and commented:
    Beautifully written

  17. haukdavid

    Wonderful. I like the alliteration in the first paragraph. And the wisdom of the elderly man. What better way to worship than at the daily display of God’s power? Good for you for sacrificing a bit of sleep to do so.

  18. I LOVE that! Sunrise is the best time of the day. 🙂

  19. jacobemet

    🙂 thank you.

  20. Pingback: No One Spoke | Josie's Kaleidoscope

  21. You captured it. Thank you.

  22. Beautiful! I’ve often thought that I should arise to meet the sunrise but never moved past the thought. Your story may get me out of bed…one day 🙂

  23. Pingback: No One Spoke | Storyshucker | straykatstrut

  24. my eyes are burning. well done.

  25. What a lovely story and a reminder of what is important.

  26. I was moved to tears by the beauty of your words and the experience…thank you!

  27. Ahhhh…magical sunrise. No two are exactly the same. Great eperience Stuart.

  28. Very nice job. I was there. I could even “hear” the silence of it all. It has unfortunately been years since I’ve been to the ocean, let alone sit and watch the sun peek up over the horizon. Seems our entire family might be renting a house at the Delaware shore next summer. I plan on seeing a few sunrises.

  29. An absolutly stunning post, Stuart. I hope you will submit it to someone like The SUN magazine so others might enjoy it as much as I did…

    “but for a few minutes we were completely bound together in silent darkness as we waited by the ocean for a beautiful ball of light.”

  30. Breathtaking description and inspirational common sense. Beautifully written .

  31. Reblogged this on kimboxin and commented:
    If you love the written word, and are not following this blog, you’re missing out.

  32. You really capture the magic of a sunrise, and the wonders that bind us together. Bravo!

  33. A wonderful story and I love the ending. If anyone believes in God, that’s one place to find her. 🙂

  34. This was beautiful, Stuart. I just returned from a vacation myself, and got up every morning to see the sunrise on the beach. I have so many pictures of basically the same thing every morning! But each one depicts the start of a new day, so I guess each one is special. I love the way you write. 🙂

  35. trE

    I smiled too. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Such vivid imagery and colorful word usage. Thank you for this sunrise.

  36. This story brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing it.

  37. becketar

    Thank you for taking us on this journey, it was a pleasant way to end my day. Sigh.

  38. Reblogged this on May the Simple Things be Amazing and commented:
    It’s been a while since I posted, I have been busy doing mundane tasks. This morning I promised myself to stop long enough to smell the roses and it worked. I stopped long enough to read and be a part of this beautiful morning ritual with a group of people unknown to each other and fell in love again with those small, but simply amazing, moments. Thanks for bringing me back, Stuart.

  39. Great story, and loved the “sunrise service” comment. Perfect response!

  40. lilaskid01

    What a blessed start to ur day. Hope it blessed you throughout and thank you for sharing. Felt the same on a mountain in Maine a couple years ago. (Sigh). Thank you God

  41. This is amazin I really want to do it. once i try and fell asleep again and miss it

  42. Lynn

    I’m moving in with you, Stuie! ❤️ Your work!

  43. “Through the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us” (Canticle of Zechariah) Beautiful story, thanks for sharing this! 🙂

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