Outside My Window

The coolness of the riverbank,
And the whispering of the reeds
Daybreak is not so very far away
Enchanted and spellbound,
In the silence they lingered
And rowed the boat as the light grew steadily strong
And the birds were silent
As they listened to the heavenly music
And the river played the song
The wind in the willows and the piper at the gates of dawn
The wind in the willows and the piper at the gates of dawn…
                                        -Van Morrison-Piper at the Gates of Dawn

This morning I was up at 4:30. Alone in the early morning hours, I’ve learned to appreciate the stillness before the busyness of the day begins. It’s my time to read, think, write, and pray.

Sitting at my desk thus, I heard an owl calling. I quickly turned off the inside lights and opened my window to better see and hear what was going on outside. I sat in anticipatory calm, the coolness of the pre-dawn breeze a gentle balm to my heart and mind.

A second owl began to answer the first and so began a most welcome opportunity to apprehend the beauty and gift of God’s greatness in creation. As my eyes adjusted to the semi-darkness outside, I was thrilled to catch a glimpse of an owl in flight, skimming high in the treetops and silhouetted against the imminent break of day.

What a gentle mystery is the owl’s call! It is a mingling of enchantment and nostalgia, the solemn longing for something just out of reach. Other birds’ songs are quite eloquent to be sure, yet straightforward in their expression. But the owl, reluctant to reveal too much, reserves a secret reservoir of insight and sagacity for patient souls intent on deciphering what it is he is trying to say.

Twenty minutes or so passed. One owl would call, the other would answer. Captivated by the present and afraid I would miss the miracle if I were to surrender the moment too soon, I waited, listening and spellbound.

As the sky blushed pink with morning, the owl lifted effortlessly from its resting place and glided eastward just as the mockingbird sang its exuberant welcome to the dawning of a new day.


Early Riser

I haven’t always been an early riser. In fact, there was a time in my life I would’ve classified myself as a night owl. There was also a time when I was neither. When my children were small I would have paid good money to turn in early and sleep in late.

But these days I am usually in bed by 9:30 or 10:00 and wake up about 5:00 or 5:30 each morning. I don’t work (at least outside my home) so my early start is elective. My choice. It’s not that I don’t like sleep. I adore sleep. Then why would I forfeit the warm comfort of my bed for a couple of extra waking hours each day?

First, I need time alone. I need time to think, to reflect, to prepare spiritually and emotionally for the day ahead. I’ve never thought of it this way before, but the moments I spend alone each morning are a way to rest with my eyes open.

There is another reason I get out of bed early. Sometimes, fear and anxiety wake me up. Usually it’s some worry about one or the other of my children. Rather than allowing anxiety to consume me (and in my life, anxiety is ever the hungry little troll), I roll out of bed and set my mind on other things. My children are all grown, but my worries only seem to have grown along with them. Does it ever stop, a mother worrying about her children?

Each morning, the world wakes up. Ever hopeful, the sun rises, the birds busy themselves, and life begins anew. The morning holds a hope and beauty that I just don’t want to miss.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases
His mercies never come to an end
They are new every morning
Great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23