I wake before the sun most mornings. I keep my eyes closed a few moments longer, relishing the dark and the quiet, the warmth of a blanket on my bare feet, my arm outstretched under a pillow.
I’ve always been an early riser, partly due to the fact I rarely stay up late in the evenings. (The exception, I think, has been the past couple of years, when Atticus’ sleep schedules have been erratic, or when my anxiety would cause insomnia that kept me up until two or three in the morning while I tossed and turned.) I like routine and predictability, so there’s something about 5am that is deeply satisfying to me. There’s a full day ahead. I have time to breathe, to prepare.
I fill the coffee pot with cold water each morning, fill a filter with freshly ground beans. The living room lamp provides a warm glow while I rub my eyes, check my emails, glance at the calendar for the day. My journal and Bible sit on the coffee table, along with anywhere from one to three various books I’m reading at any given time. The clock ticks loudly. Cars pass on the street. I can hear the woooosh of Atticus’ white noise machine. The coffee pot beeps, signaling it’s time to choose a mug, pour cream. I set aside ingredients for Atticus’ breakfast when he wakes, take my vitamins.
This past summer, my routine was much more relaxed. I slept later. I moved more slowly. The calendar was emptier. So after Labor Day rolled around, I made it a habit to start setting my alarm clock again. To start laying out clothes the night before, prepping lunches, grinding the coffee before I went to bed. It’s like I was instinctively aware that I needed a new rhythm again. Summer is wonderful, but it can’t last forever, after all.
I often joke that I wish I could live somewhere it was fall all year ’round. I love the cooler temperatures, dressing in layers, all things pumpkin spice and apple. More than that, I love the pattern of my days when it’s back-to-school-season. Until, of course, one day, I don’t. And then I start counting down to Thanksgiving break, or Christmas, or wishing for a snow day.
You see, seasons–both the physical and the metaphorical–are built into the very fabric of the human experience. Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us there’s a time for everything under the sun, and we need changes and transitions, different routines; we need to switch up once in a while.
Emily Freeman wrote a few months ago that if ” God had made the world straight up and down, we would have no seasons or change; just the sun shining straight at the equator all year around. Instead, he chose to tilt it on its axis, making a way for strawberries, red leaves, quiet snow…and sunflowers standing high in salute.
The tilt made a way for long light as well as long darkness.
The tilt made a way for change. The earth moves, giving to some, taking from others, but then spinning around and giving something back again. When transition comes, I’m learning to take small cues from the built-in rhythm of the world.”
I love that. Light and darkness–we require both. Give and take, up and down, night and day, sun and rain; we tend to want one without the other, but could that be because we don’t fully understand our innate need for both/and?
What about you? Are you an early bird or a night owl? What are your routines? Is there anything in your life you feel you might need to switch up a bit? Like Emily said, may you take your cues from the earth’s example. Both/and leads you into fullness. Either/or is, at best, incomplete.