I am not a morning person. This simply means that, as a general rule, I do not usually function at peak capacity during the first few hours after I wake up. On the contrary, some of my most productive and creative times are between 10 pm and 2 am. And being a student with a fairly flexible schedule, I have been known to keep those kinds of hours. This makes for some interesting scenarios when interacting with the rest of the mostly 9-5 world.
Yes, people have called me at 10:30 am and woken me up. When I hear that familiar ringing and it rudely snatches me out of my unconscious state, demanding immediate attention, I leap out of bed. I say some practice 'hellos' just to get the kinks out of the vocal chords and try to sound sane and coherent when I press the talk button on the phone. It doesn't work all that well. People can just tell if you've been sleeping. I used to get embarrassed about it, but then I realised that if I called them back at 1:30 am when I was wide awake and working hard, they would be the ones stumbling towards the phone, shaking the grogginess of sleep from their head.
Going on a road trip with others is always fun as well. Some people, for unexplainable reasons that I have yet to decipher, like to rise early and engage in non-stop conversation as soon as their eyes are open. And sometimes they try to engage me. I remember being on one road trip with a youth group where a bunch of us girls were all sleeping in the same room. Around 8 am, the sound of people stirring and quietly chatting in the room began to rouse me from my slumber. I was slowly coming out of that underground cavern where I bury myself when I sleep, when one of those cheery morning girls leaped onto my sleeping bag, pulled back the cover(which I had purposely placed over my head, get the message?), and started to talk to me. I think there might have been questions involved, I can't remember. It was all very loud and definitely disrupting my usual hour-long transition time from hibernation to productive member of society. I pulled the covers back over my head and intoned in a long syllables: "Noooooo talkiiiiiiiiing!" Everyone laughed at my silliness, and Dean still tells that story because he thinks it's so funny.
I don't mind being made fun of regarding my unusual morning behaviour, and take all the teasing in good humour for the most part. I know I can be irrational and ridiculous just after I wake up, and I have learned not to take myself too seriously. But there is something that I do take very seriously. When I get internally frustrated, annoyed, angry, and foul-tempered with others, I don't like it at all. Just because it happens in the morning is no excuse. I can tell the difference between momentary irritation and being mean, petty, and unloving.
We were on a trip with some friends a few months ago. We went to bed late, all tired from a long day of driving, and had to be up early the next morning to finish the trip. That morning, I found myself in a particularly nasty mood. I was silently sullen, avoiding contact because I knew I would snap at someone. I hated it. I gave myself a lecture: Come on, Matte, if you cannot be loving when you are tired, then your love is of poor quality, indeed. It was true, but it didn't help.
I thought about it, asked God about it, and over the next few days, an answer emerged. I get my strength and equilibrium from interacting with God. If I don't take time to do this every day, I can tell (and so can others). The lacking-in-grace Matte emerges and it is not pretty. It becomes very obvious that in and of myself, I have very little in the way of love, mercy, and kindness. It is like my spirit needs to eat first thing in the morning in order to function well; I need to be awakened to God in order to be properly awake and alive to the world. If God is not the first person I talk to when I wake up, I can very easily get thrown off kilter and begin to function out of my own well of self-centredness.
Don't get me wrong. There is nothing evil about the people that talk to me first thing in the morning, but they are not the ones I gain my strength from. Waking up and falling asleep have been called liminal places by some ancient saints, in-between times when the spirit is vulnerable and easily accessed. It is when I sometimes have the clearest dreams, profoundest insights, and sense God's spirit the most. And for me, it is vital that when I am in this transitional place, that I turn my spirit towards Life, towards Light, towards Strength, towards Peace, towards Truth, towards Love towards Jesus. Otherwise, I have nothing to draw on except what I can conjure up on my own, and that ain't much.
Though it looks like a weakness, I believe this is actually a strength. Having to be dependent on God every day is a very good thing, an excellent thing. And I have made a practice of starting each day, when I awake and am still lying in bed, with this greeting: "Hello, God. Here is a day for you." And then I lie there for a few moments and just enjoy him. It starts my day off in the right direction, the direction of God.
This is a photo of me at 6 am on the beach in Cuba 2 years ago. The night before, I had asked God to wake me up if there was going to be a nice sunrise, because I wanted to get some cool photos. At 5:50 the next morning, my eyes opened. Cool!