Each spring when I was a young child the glass-paned storm windows on our house were taken off and replaced by screens. Then as I woke up with my bedroom window open a few inches I could hear the calls of doves. According to Wikipedia the American dove’s sound is “CooOOO-woo-woo-wooow.” I don’t remember it that way, exactly, but its downward slope didn’t sound sad to me. I called it a “morning dove” because that’s what my parents said it was.
Later I realized that the word that sounded just like “morning” was spelled “mourning.” After that I heard the bird call as sad. But I think that in my earlier understanding I was onto something fundamental. The bird call announced morning—a new day beginning.
As followers of Jesus we understand that mourning and morning are connected, especially in Holy Week. Just as for His first disciples the tragedy and mourning of Good Friday were followed by the joy of Resurrection on the morning of Easter, so we are assured that our own current mourning, fear, and perplexity are not a final thing. In that hope the deacon’s “Exsultet” song in the Easter Vigil calls Jesus our “Morning Star”—the star that appears and shines above the horizon while we remain just before dawn still in the dark of night.
Mourning and morning—they go together for us. Mourning is real, especially now. So is the morning dove. So too the Morning Star.
The Rev. Charles Hoffacker is a retired priest of the Diocese of Washington