Tag Archives: early mornings

Blessings of Early Rising

The quiet calm of early rising.  First stirrings.  A creak on the steps, always that same spot.  The dog rustles in his bed, sniffing the air to know what the day will bring, stretching his legs, wondering about food and weather, sensing his master’s mood.  A moment to stop and think, to consciously embrace a new day, its challenges and the gentle grace it brings.  Breath and life, an old song rattles in the back of my mind.  When did I first hear that, those artful notes, that plaintive melody?

He is older now, our pooch.  Almost venerable in his doggish ways.  He patiently sits by the window and waits, looking out, scanning the yards, his domain.  He knows every inch of it, every corner and crack, every twig fallen from a tree.  We slip out of the door from the warmth of home to another world.  A red light slowly, softly, gently, yet inexorably rises in the east.  Street lights begin to sputter and go out, like giant candles whose wicks have run down into melted wax, agents of their own destruction.

Up ahead a raccoon crosses our path, pausing for a moment to stale balefully at us with his bandit eyes.  Everything is heightened.  Each bird’s song can be heard.  The wind, only in the upper branches of the trees, murmurs of summers past and springs to come.  Stars and planets shine brightly.  There is Venus, there Jupiter, there red-tinted Mars.  A sickle moon presides over the heavens, almost austere in its dignity, its endless rounds of waxing and waning.  There is a quiet in these moments that is restful and  pregnant at the same time, soon to be released, but also precious.

Lights flicker in homes along the way, others rising to a new day.  Soon the phones will be ringing, the highway in the distance humming, the emails dinging, all of the noise of modern life in its constant cacophony.  But not quite yet.  Dawn still stubbornly clings, refusing for yet another moment (or two) to relinquish this early morning sacred time to the sun.  With gratitude we’ll wait patiently, and walk on.

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An Early Morning Singing Song

I’ve always been an early riser. Generally it is not the alarm that wakes me. Instead, there is some kind of internal ticking, a sense that the sun will soon be climbing over the horizon, the first rays of dawn, the birds chirping through our open windows, the thoughts in my head. Whatever it is I have grown accustomed over the years to being the first one up and out of bed. If you are familiar with that time of day, the grey of dawn turning to light, the shadows on the trees and houses, the world slowly but surely coming into focus, you’ll know it is a contemplative time, full of calm and possibility, of thought and reflection. There is something to be said for a quiet house, a fresh cup of coffee, a few minutes to glance at the paper or watch the rabbits in the back yard. A weighing of the day to come.

For a number of years now I am greeted first thing at the foot of the steps by our dog Brady. Loyal (perhaps to a fault) he will stagger out of his bed the moment he detects my upstairs movement, and each morning he waits for me patiently, yawning and stretching, especially extending his front paws in that way that dogs do. He knows the first walk of the day is imminent, and he is preparing, everything a ritual. He walks to the windows to consider the street. Anything interesting out there, anything we should know about before we venture out? He walks back and patiently waits for me to put on my shoes, to grab his leash, bows his head so I can hook it to his collar. Then to the door.

Shabbat is a special treat. A much quieter time, very few cars, people, other dogs at 6 on a Saturday morning. We leave the neighborhood and make our way into less familiar territory. He is intent now, reading the signs, tracking the movements of deer and raccoons, squirrels and foxes, even the occasional woodchuck. To the human eye it is invisible, but to the dog’s nose it is an open book. Here the deer stood for a few moments, munching thoughtfully on a bush. Here the squirrel stopped to gather acorns. Just in that spot a fox snuck under the fence. His nose snuffles, low to the ground, he is mesmerized by the narrative he puzzles out.

As the sun rises higher the world comes to life. A car passes. An old woman sits on her porch, smoking the day’s first cigarette. The long shadows at the foot of every tree grow shorter, the blue of the sky brighter. The old pines, the deeper woods, the worn paths where our feet have tread countless times. But the house too begins to call. Others are rising, tasks beginning, work approaching. He is disappointed when he senses my need to go back, but he knows the rhythm of his days and reluctantly he heads for home. After all there will be food there and a warm place to lie down, the comforts of civilization that are so familiar to him. And other responsibilities to fulfill. For now this one is done, but tomorrow there will be another early morning.

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