I love sleeping in. (Correction: I used to love sleeping-in, pre-John Paul that is!) But even in these days of very early mornings, I’m often able to sleep in until a little after seven, as my sweet husband feeds John Paul in the morning and hangs out with him downstairs until he has to start getting ready for work. I am so grateful for the extra time my husband gives me to sleep-in. But lately, I’ve found that waking up to dirty breakfast dishes and a cranky baby almost ready for his first cat-nap of the day wasn’t starting my morning off on the best foot. I too would quickly become cranky and frustrated, and would send Mike off to work with a grumpy, admittedly half-hearted, “Have a good day.”
So, I’m going against my night-owl nature and trying to go to bed earlier so that I can wake up with my boys and enjoy the early morning. For on the somewhat rare early mornings I have experienced in my life I have seen how the first rays of sunlight bring a unique beauty, and create scenes that are not repeated during any other time of day. Only the first rays of sun can make the world glow as if on fire:
As I sat in my armchair reading the Psalms this morning, my husband and John Paul bonding over “Sports Center,” I remembered cherished mornings with a wise friend who always took the time to savor moments in early morning. Juan* and I lived together at L’Arche (an intentional community where people with and without developmental disabilities share life together), and I often helped him bathe and dress in the morning. Amidst the hustle and bustle of getting ready, Juan always managed to find moments of peace.
When I would enter Juan’s room in the morning, he would always already be awake. It amazed me how patiently he would lie in his bed, his eyes wide open, looking at the world and bathing in the morning sun. He looked at peace and in no hurry to be anywhere but exactly where he was. Juan’s physical disabilities make it impossible for him to move himself from his bed. If he wanted to jump out of bed and start each morning by meticulously organizing the blocks, or “bloques,” he’s had since childhood, he simply couldn’t. Still, every morning he seemed content to lie in the sun and wait, as if the stillness were his choice. And each morning I spent with Juan I thought of this: be still and know that I am God. I have no doubt that Juan is connected to God in the quiet morning moments.
I long for that same connection with God. It’s what my soul aches for and my heart beats for. I am made for it. We all are. And yet I so often reserve spending time with God for mass on Sunday. But is not God always with me, within me, above me, and below me? And so I am trying to be more present to the constant presence of God. Which is why, this morning, I refrained from sleeping-in, doing the dishes, getting a start on laundry, or watching the morning news. Instead, I merely sat, read the Psalms, and basked in the presence of God.
And while reading, I stumbled upon this wisdom:
4 Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones,
And give thanks to His holy name.
5 For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for a lifetime;
Weeping may last for the night,
But a shout of joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30: 4-5.)
No matter what the trials were of the previous day, the sadness we might feel in our hearts, or the anxieties racing through our minds, joy comes in the morning, because wherever we are, God is with us. My friend Juan knows this and lives this truth so well, and how beautiful and wise is his assurance in the unending grace of God!
My prayer for you today is that regardless of whatever darkness is in your heart when you lay down at night, you might find joy in the morning, in the dawn of a new day filled with the promise of God’s love and grace.
*Name changed to protect privacy.