Although the time in which I wake has varied greatly over the years, the process of waking has always been one that fascinates me. There have been times when an angry alarm clock jolted me awake, other times when my favorite music turned on to greet my morning. For years, I didn’t need to worry about mechanical devices because the cries of a hungry baby or the tugs of a toddler wanting to play welcomed me to a new day. Any way it happens, our body moves from resting to awareness. And, we have an opportunity to seize that moment.
This morning, I awoke a few minutes before my alarm would have gone off. I love it when that happens. As my body drifted into consciousness, I became aware of sensation, stretching my legs and arms and fingers. I try to take note of what my senses experience first. This morning, I heard birds of spring that seemed to fill the air with song. I pictured them in my mind, tiny songbirds and larger scavenger birds. The coos of a morning dove. It was still dark, but the instinct of the birds told them it was time to rise. I was delighted to make their acquaintance this morning in my ear, drowning out other noises of nearby cars and the hustle/bustle of my city surroundings.
When I was growing up, morning seemed still and quiet. This is not only nostalgia speaking: it really was still and quiet in the country where my family lived. Usually, a train whistle jarred me awake (or my mother when I was young, multiple alarm clocks when I was older). If I spent the night at Gramma’s (or in my early years, when we lived upstairs) the whole world was bustling early because farm work is early work. The first sense I experienced waking there in the morning was the scent of breakfast…usually bacon and eggs…which inspired my young body to get up and dressed. My Gramma rose before anyone else. Same thing with my Dad. Same now with my spouse. I find that ironic, since most people consider me an “early bird” but that depends largely on context, it would seem. Sometimes work or chores made them early risers, but particularly for Gramma, early rising seemed to be a way of life, an intrinsic aspect of who she was and how she moved through the world. I wondered, when I was young, about the reasons grown ups woke so early. It seemed bizarre to me, naturally inclined to burn the midnight oil as I was then. Truth be told, I now love both. Six hours of sleep seems optimal in my world.
This particular morning, after the birds compelled me to rise, I put on my exercise clothes, and went for a walk/jog in their midst. My waking was well before my 5:30 alarm clock was set to go off, and I was grateful for that. I prefer morning and I to greet each other on our own terms. There was no sunrise yet, but daylight savings time is irrelevant to nature and nature seemed to be awake and in full motion. After spending some time with the birds, squirrels, and cats of the neighborhood…and centering my own thoughts with some walking meditations…I came back in to hot coffee and reflective writing. Bliss. This quiet aloneness of morning nurtures my soul and recharges my mind from the frenetically swirling thoughts of the rest of my work day.
Now, I know exactly why my Gramma woke so early. I picture her strolling her farmhouse before all the activity of the day set in. I can practically walk those rooms in my own mind, and sometimes I still do. Although I didn’t spend the majority of my years in that house, they are the first years I can consciously remember, so these images left a lasting and comforting impression. Early morning is a time for gathering inner resources, storing potential energy, setting one’s course for whatever emerges. That is true on a farm, in a small town, and in the city.
Waking is opportunity. And that, everyday, is a small point of light.