Maker Of Mornings (I Am Loved)
In recent years I’ve grown less and less able to sleep late. When the slightest bit of sunlight breaks into my room in the morning it wakes me up. It is a gentle and kind waking, so I don’t mind a bit (most days).
The more I think about mornings, the more hopeful they are to me. Sorrows may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning… God’s mercies are new every morning… Every sun rises on a new day that the Lord has made, and with it comes a chance to start over and do things better today than yesterday. I will rejoice and be glad in it, indeed.
“Sleep is a surrender,” says Frederick Buechner, “a rehearsal for the final laying down of arms, of course, when you trust yourself to the same unseen benevolence to see you through the dark and to wake you when the time comes—with new hope, new strength—into the return again of light.” Sleeping and waking is a way of acting out death and resurrection.
After we’ve lived awhile, we begin to feel the weight of the missed opportunities, wrong turns, and outright failures in our lives. As they pile up, the regrets make us weary and tired. Sleep, when it comes, is rest-less. But when we wake up, it is into a new day of new possibilities and, if we are to believe Lamentations 3:23, with a slate wiped clean by God’s mercy.
Someone has wisely said that the past is depression and the future is anxiety. My mentor is always reminding me that “the Holy Spirit speaks in real time” which is to say that it is now, this moment, that I can hear his voice if I listen.
As long as I’m dwelling on the past and worrying about the future, I’m only talking with myself. But my best chance of hearing the life-giving voice of the Spirit is by learning how to be in this moment, this day, this holy now. I believe this is what Jesus is saying in Matthew 10:19 when he says, “...when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say…” The Spirit speaks “now,” in real time.
The mercy of God is the key that lets me into the holy now and shuts out the raging storms of my past regrets and future anxieties. Covered and carried by this mercy it is quiet enough for me to tune into the still, small voice.
I was at a retreat once where one of my heroes, Reed Arvin (author, producer of Rich Mullin’s records and others), spoke. At the beginning of the session he handed out pieces of chocolate to eat. Later—after an affecting talk about mindfulness and being present to the moment—he gave us each another chocolate, this time asking us to not just eat it, but to take our time and savor it, noticing the difference in our experience compared to the first chocolate.
As I felt the second chocolate slowly melting in my mouth, I felt very connected to the moment and better able to receive all it was offering me.
This is how I want to treat the gift of waking up each day! The more present I am to the morning arrivals of new mercy, the more I’m able to receive all that is being offered. What is being offered, of course, is the love of God, and with it another day to live and move and have my being within it. With each day he gives, he is also giving himself. Savoring it all is my first act of worship for the day and is how I let the light into my soul to wake me.