I remember clearly a season of blissful mornings. The year we lived in the little yellow house on Cosy Street in southeast Portland, behind Clackamas Town Center mall. The fleeting era of kindergarten. I'd rise early, without rush, and nestle myself in front of the television, back when it was a box, my eyes fixated on as many episodes on the Cartoon Express channel I could squeeze in before breakfast. Namely, Scooby Doo. I adored that wacky dog and his gang of misfit friends and delighted to come along with them on their mystery-solving adventures.
Meanwhile, Mom would be scrambling to get my older sister ready for fourth grade, and as soon as we waved goodbye to her on the bus, we grabbed each other's hands and strolled to the mall for breakfast. The Muffin Break. Oh, how I loved going to the Muffin Break - in fact, that must be where I can trace the origins of my my weakness for bakeries - my mouth salivating at the thought of a warm chocolate chocolate chip muffin, the chips melted inside. This was our morning tradition, and while I doubt we did it every day, in my memory it was our mornings. We'd walk back home, and I'd get ready to catch the kindergarten bus, back when school was little more than glorified play time. Back when life was more simple.
The departure from a life of blissful mornings happened when I was six - the start of a life of formal education and then, adulthood. From first grade up until about two months ago, with a few exceptions in between, mornings have been a blur of activity. Two months now of not getting up sometime between four-thirty and five forty-five in the morning, of passing the mornings quickly by making coffee and espresso drinks for a steady stream of customers as I watched the occasional cotton candy sunrise with longing, on full display in the windows to the right of the kiosk. It's not that I didn't enjoy these mornings; I simply felt I was along for the ride, whether I wanted to be or not.
But an injury changed all that, and now I sleep in ridiculously late in comparison, and I'm rarely in a rush to get anywhere. I make a breakfast smoothie and come back to bed, where I prop myself against pillows and cover with a fuzzy blanket, and I sit and read, feasting first on two books: My bible and a daily devotional. Luxurious as this sounds, it hasn't always been a picnic in bed. There have been the days, sometimes the weeks, when I didn't particularly want to get back out of bed. The days when feelings of depression squelched any joy I'd have taken from this morning tradition and the tears sank me heavy under the sheets. But the more times I come crawling back to this place, this hallowed space carved out in the freshness of the day, the more I look up. And I see this for the priceless gift it is.
I read this, just two days ago, and smiled.
My voice You shall hear in the morning,
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up. ~Psalm 5:3
It's hard not to see life differently when I look up. When I'm in the bedroom, well, it's nothing eye-catching, just a smooth white ceiling with one yellow lamp. Outside, it's more exciting - clouds and patches of blue and wind-blown trees and a big yellow ball of fire and sometimes a pair of soaring eagles. But more precious to me than what I visibly see with my eyes when I look up is what I don't see. The invisible realities that I rush past ten thousand mornings, that when I slow down and look up and train my eyes to see, become increasingly more real than those physical things I see.
We don't have to be stuck in bed to see these, but sometimes a little enforced rest does wonders for the eyesight.
I look up with a heart filled with thanks. I look up when I offer my tears to God in prayer, a sacrifice of praise. I look up when I choose trust over fear. I look up when I untangle myself from the cares of yesterday and let go of control of tomorrow, and live fully today. I look up when I sing songs instead of stressing. I look up when I get over myself to love another person. I look up when I laugh with my belly, when my smile lights up my eyes.
I look up, and I see God. And God lights up even the darkest of mornings. God redeems mornings that have dried up in exhaustion or disappeared in just plain busyness. God restores souls and opens eyes wide to see in the mornings. God renews strength and fills hungry hearts in the mornings. And I don't know yet how I'll do it, when I go back to early morning work hours, but I know I can't go back to morningless mornings.
What about you? How would you like your mornings to be different? What small step can you take to "look up"?