On Waking…

A cornucopia of insects is thrumming outside my window right now. It is 5 am, and I am (again) awake (earlier than I expected). Sleep has been…elusive lately…. or rather, the ability to sleep beyond 6 hours or so. I cannot control this impulse to wake in the wee hours, only ride the wave (and trust me when I tell you, I would control it if that were possible). So I linger, on the edge of sleep, letting the songs of the crickets and the katydids wash over me.

I have a certain reverence for these early hours, before the world begins to wake itself and shake the dust from its eyes. In this liminal space, the earth feels full enough–certainly not empty, but not overwhelming, either. I find that I can sit and listen without restlessness, wrapped in the soundscape of creation. Human sounds–the roar of an engine, say–become unwelcome interruptions. Our scurrying here and there doesn’t belong.

When I started to wake in the night, my first thought was that something was wrong with me. My mind was running frantically, and thoughts were spilling out of me faster than I could set them down. I felt like a broken water main, emptying itself on the lovely garden of rest that I have tended so carefully over the years. I worried about the long-term implications, wrestled with my thoughts and tried to make them hold still. I told myself, perhaps if I could understand this, it will go away, and leave me be. I thought of Jacob, wrestling the angel on the banks of the river Jabbock, crying out, I will not let you go until you bless me.

But bodies have a way of telling us what we need. And mine? It seems that my body needs me to pay attention. She needs the soft quiet before daybreak. She craves space that belongs to nobody but her. She needs this sacred dark, this palpable quiet. I am doing my best to listen to her. To let her lead me to the place that I need to go. I will know it when I see it.

The birds and the squirrels are beginning to rustle in the bushes. They are early risers, too, their gentle morning grumbling a natural alarm clock for the rest of creation. Not long from now, the earth will be filled with the soundtrack of the living once more, and I will no longer be alone with my thoughts. I cannot stay here. So I breathe deeply. I let the gift of this quiet permeate throughout my body, and hope that I will be able to carry its memory with me, whatever this day brings.

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