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Why I Wake Early

This morning I woke up at 5:30 am. I hadn’t slept as well as I normally do, but it wasn’t worth going back to sleep. The night behind me had been restless and I didn’t want to go back there. I looked through my window to the pitch black outside and felt the chill in our bedroom. I would get up, I thought to myself, and enjoy the early morning. Our dog Freckles heard me rise and scurried to follow me so he could get an early breakfast.


I love the quiet of the early morning. I tread softly so as not to wake anyone in the house. I made coffee and fed Freckles. Then I lit a candle and brought the candle and my warm mug to the living room where I sat on the couch and closed my eyes to breathe and listen to the silence for a few minutes.


As I sat, enjoying the still sleepy feeling in my body and my brain, I thought to myself, “this I why I wake early.” I remembered one of my favorite Mary Oliver poems.

Why I Wake Early
Hello, sun in my face. Hello, you who make the morning and spread it over the fields and into the faces of the tulips and the nodding morning glories, and into the windows of, even, the miserable and crotchety–
best preacher that ever was, dear star, that just happens to be where you are in the universe to keep us from ever-darkness, to ease us with warm touching, to hold us in the great hands of light– good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness.

Normally I’m a famously sound sleeper and I don’t stir until my alarm goes off at 6:20 am. But I just started a new job and my head is full of lists and questions and shoulds and what-ifs. Getting out of a bed felt more like a relief than a chore this morning. Sitting in the dark with my candle and cup of coffee felt like, “the best preacher that ever was.” A few moments to settle into the stillness before the worries of the day began. It offered me a short time to connect with the magic of quiet and darkness, to simply, “be where I [am] in the universe”.


As I sat on the couch in the dark I could see the lights of cars far in the distance on the bridge crossing over the lake. I could hear a distant train whistle and periodic choppy voices of runners trotting down to the hill to the path along the lake. It was still too early to hear any birds. At this hour they were still sleeping.


Inside my house was utter silence. I felt such gratitude for this time of just being — no work, no parenting, no planning. Just being. The day ahead would be busy. I’ve put too much on my plate and I haven’t figured out yet how to manage these humungous servings.