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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!


Shelley said…
I can so relate...I can't even think straight for the first hour. If people ask me stuff I can feel something in my brain sweeping stuff aside with a lot of effort to find the answer. Like walking in waist deep water.

Dale says I am a b@(#@ without my spiritual exercises in the morning. just to bug me - ha ha. But I believe it.
gorgeous picture!
Kathryn said…
Oh my goodness, I totally could have written this article! When I was working, I used to wake up at 5am. Not because I am a morning person; in fact just the opposite. I needed a full hour and a half to do morning routine things before anyone else was up, so that I could be my own little robot and not have to interact with anyone. People talking to me is the worst, but even sitting near me and being alive irritates me before I've woken up!

But praying first thing in the morning helps. I like to take 10 minutes, after I've showered and dressed (so I'm presentable and mildly conscious) but before I go eat to sit and look out my window and maybe even catch an awesome sunrise, and just chat or even just be with God.

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