I am not a morning person but after 40 minutes of wakefulness I dragged myself out of bed around 5 am. I crept downstairs so as not to wake my husband and found I was not alone; my daughter's 3:30 am shift at the rehabilitation hospital had been canceled and she went back to sleep on the sofa, swathed in an afghan and down throws. I turned up the heat for her comfort and put the kettle on for mine. I opened the kitchen blinds to check on the sky and the shape of the moon. It is a part of my ritual. The sky and the neighbor’s windows were still dark and the moon was a bright curve of fingernail. After buttering a bagel to broil, I lifted the murmuring kettle from the stove just before it began to whistle and sloshed hot water into a favorite cup. I used a teabag because, for me, it was too early to fuss with loose leaf. As I said, I am not a morning person. While the tea steeped, I stood at the window watching light gather along the edges of the day, silhouetting the black lace of empty tree branches. A framed, rectangle of amber light appeared in the house behind ours. I heard the birds begin to chirp their morning songs. The world was waking up.
A well-loved poem ran through my mind and I breathed it into the rising day like a hymn:
Out of the scabbard of the night
By God’s hand drawn,
Flashes His shining sword of light,
And lo—the dawn!
And lo—the dawn!
I sat down with a book I haven’t read since I was in high school and read it again for the first time. John Steinbeck’s The Moon is Down seems even better this second, first time. The tea was hot, the bagel was sweet with honey, and the book was savory with words. I heard my daughter breathing softly in the next room and forgot, for an instant, that she isn’t a child anymore, hasn’t been a child for many years, yet she is still my child and her presence is an antidote to loneliness; her breathing is another kind of hymn.
Now, a robin is pecking in the garden for early worms; the sword-light of the rising sun is flashing joyously through my kitchen window, and even though I am not a morning person, I know it is a good morning and I will be glad in it.
photo by Fabrizio Cacciatore, Dawn by Frank Dempster Sherman