My husband jokes about “burning daylight” if you wake up too late. I’m less concerned about that than I am about seeing the start of day. There is something about the quiet beginnings of morning, the way the birds awaken and the sky lightens, that comfort me. It’s a grounding I need, and a space to wonder. While I might cast my dreams at night, early morning is when my visions take root. It’s also the best time for problem solving, before life knits its cobwebs across my mind.
I think I inherited this “early bird” thing from my dad. Raising four kids on his own after we lost my mother to breast cancer in 1972, he’d be awake long before the house would come alive. When I’d wake up, still early but not as early as Dad — never as early as Dad — and I’d find him at the kitchen table, stirring his coffee and talking to himself. While his spoon would clink around the edges of the cup, his other hand would be debating, mid-air. If I could have peeked into his mind, I’m sure I’d have seen him talking with my mom, asking her advice about how to solve the latest kid issue: She’s starting puberty? Already? How do I get the kids to stop their bickering? Will this nanny last through dinner? I am sure he was looking for some divine intervention.
Now, with my own two teenage girls — both as different as bacon and eggs — I understand those daybreak conversations a little better. Unlike my dad though, I have my laptop where I can connect to friends across time zones without fear of waking them. And I can seek answers to my most pressing problems with just a click and a prayer: Dear Lord, let me be able to discern the truth among the crap. I can read, shop, and debate — all while still in my bathrobe. And during the summer, when my morning hours linger a little longer, I can write.
The reality, though, is that work will be starting up again in two weeks — and my morning hours will be cut short. Class bells and loud children will take the place of the morning geese flying overhead and I will have less time to meander around my mind’s maze. My bottomless coffee cup will be replaced by a bottle of water and a green smoothie to-go. And my writing? Oh, I pray my writing will continue . . .
Because it’s my writing that has grounded me, given me a place to wonder . . . all in the space of early morning hours, when the world hovers between sleep and wakefulness, when all the world is still quiet . . . my coffee-cup meditation.