I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Nicole Walters' reflection "The Rhythms of the Dawn."
The quiet of the morning is broken by the alarm that starts off on the periphery of a dream and shifts to a nagging pull into reality. I stumble out of bed, untangling the little limbs wrapped around my body.
In the dark I can't decipher which child is to my right and who is to my left but I don't want to wake either one. My husband lies across the abyss, cradling the far edge of the bed to make room for our children who found their way between us sometime in the night.
Everything in me wants to return to the comfort of sheets tangled up and to little blond heads waiting to cuddle up against my chest for a couple more hours. Most days that is exactly what I do: I shut the world out for a while longer, find my way back to the quiet and simple hours before the chaos of the day starts to pull me in four different directions away from them.
The days I allow myself to hit snooze I wake feeling defeated, knowing I failed at my first attempt at self-discipline for the day. I am desperate to bend my will to the call of the early morning.
I know I will handle all that chaos better if I prepare myself now, so today at least, I make my way downstairs in the dark, just the light from the moon illuminating the path.
I move through the space, my body waking up before my mind. My muscles remember the patterns without much effort. Downward Dog anchors me back to a place of quiet, both waking me and allowing me to find rest. The dichotomy isn't lost on me. It is the kind of rhythm I am trying to find in the remainder of my day—finding ways to be still inside even when I race around in the raging world.
Once my mind catches up to my muscles I find my way to the chair in the corner, blanket thrown across my lap and Bible open before me. My mind remembers the words without too much effort. I have read them, in varying degrees of regularity, since I was a young adult. My heart takes a little longer to follow suit, to remember the ways these verses anchor me back to a place of quiet trust. I practice being still and knowing in this place, hoping it will carry me through another day.
The light starts to filter in through the crack under the door and I make my way outside into my favorite part of the day. Every morning that I manage to wake up before my family, quietly moving through these rhythms, I tell myself that this moment is worth it all. This is that thin place between night and day. The light tugs on the horizon, not yet day but breaking through the stillness of night. The birds know it is coming before I do, already singing by the time the first rays peek over the branches.
I close my eyes and try to internalize this moment as I breathe out the sacred word that brings me back to my centering prayer. I relish the way the sun takes its time bringing day into the world. The day breaks gently, like that alarm clock that slowly makes its way into my consciousness. I find myself wishing more of life were slow and simple like the dawn. Then I remember the rhythm I created this morning and I realize it's my choice to create the slow, the simple.
The sound of little feet on the stairs tells me that the rest of the house is waking up. I return inside and smile as I scoop him up in my arms. We head back upstairs, the sunlight now illuminating the path. I head into the day, carrying a little bit of the dawn with me.
Nicole T. Walters is a writer who lives somewhere in the tension between wanderlust and rootedness. She makes her home in Georgia with her husband and two children but has lived and left parts of her heart in the Middle East and South Asia. Connect with her at NicoleTWalters.com