Sunrise Service

text and photograph by Jonathan Ives


I felt more than confused when my alarm went off at 5 a.m on a Sunday. It was still dark outside as I turned my phone off, rolled over, and got ready to sleep a few more hours. One last review before I slid back into a deep sleep reminded me that today was Easter morning. The night before my wife and I had decided to go to the sunrise service at Pemaquid Point, a tradition I’d upheld since I was a child.

For many years my father, a minister, led the service down at the lighthouse. Every Easter my sisters and I used to get one gift when we woke up; I realize now it was a great way to motivate a sleepy child out of bed. The sound of wind on the windows was my only motivation now. Feeling torn between the comforts of today and the traditions of yesterday, I decided that showing my new wife a small part of my past was more important then sleeping in.

Deciding to go to the service at six, and making it to the service at six are two very different things. We both rushed around putting on layers of clothes, making coffee, and brushing our teeth. Our hectic start made me smile as we sped down the peninsula, watching the sun slowly peak up between clearings in the trees. Will we make it on time? It’s a question I’ve asked every year.

We pulled into the lighthouse parking lot with one minute to spare. A small group of locals huddled close together and sang the traditional song: “Christ the lord has risen today.” How would things be different if Jesus had chosen to sleep in? I smiled as I looked out at the dark, cold ocean. The wind was blocked by our small group on the rocks.  All the faces around me were older but still familiar, and they returned knowing smiles as I looked around. I used to be motivated by presents but now I’m moved by presence.