It's 5:44am and the sun will stay sleeping on this side of the world for little while longer.
Maybe I should too.
And yet, I've come to love this time of day. I mean, really love it.
Maybe it's the fresh brewed coffee, or my comfy chair. Maybe it's the quiet. Or maybe, it's the agenda-free moments of sitting still, breathing deep, and not obliged to do anything. Absolutely nothing. Yes, that's it. I have come to love the "me-time" that I get at the start of every day.
For about the past 10 years I've been in a pretty regular habit of waking long before I "needed" to. I started doing it because I couldn't stand the rushed feeling from that dreaded nano-moment when the alarm screamed, to hurrying out the door to my first appointment. I felt disconnected, bitchy, and kind of resentful to the day that laid ahead of me.
I had an inkling that things could be different if I started my day more slowly, peacefully, intentionally.
Don't get me wrong, there are days, even seasons, when I've found it really difficult to hop out of bed when my alarm goes off at five. So hard, in fact, that I stay curled up asleep. But I can confidently say that there is a direct cause and effect in my life on the days when I give myself this time, and the days I don't.
Seriously, by about 11am, I am either frayed or full; and it's almost always related to how I spent those morning "fringe hours".
Here's what a typical morning tends to looks like:
- roll out of bed, go the bathroom, walk downstairs
- light a candle, get comfortable in my "Jesus chair" (I'll get to that in a moment)
- sit in the dark, breathe, and wake up to my day. This sometimes lasts an hour!
- sometimes I read some scripture, or a book, or poems, pray...whatever moves me in the moment
- do some writing or go for a walk if there's time
Sounds like a lot, I know. Because it actually is!
By 7am, I feel like I've had the most luxurious time to myself. Two hours of unhurried, obligation & agenda-free time for me.
And I'm better for it. And so are you.
I've come to learn that when I'm most connected to myself, most secure in my true identity as a loved and lovely child of God, I'm so much kinder to myself and others. I'm capable of making good decisions, acting wisely, giving thanks, and experiencing joy.
The Ancients call it the "practice of solitude".
And they call it a practice for a reason - it doesn't come easy.
We all know how rare it is to have significant chunks of time to do absolutely nothing. We fill all of our moments to overflowing without even realizing it. Jessica Turner writes, "The lifestyle of busyness makes it a big shift in perspective for women to acknowledge that they are not too busy for themselves, but that is exactly the shift that needs to happen."
Lots has been written about the cultural epidemic of "hurry-sickness".
I love this definition of solitude by Ruth Haley Barton:
I didn't start out by craving or carving out 2 hours of time. At first it was more like 20-30 minutes. But then I started setting my alarm earlier and earlier because it really made that much of a difference to the quality of my day. I wanted to to spend more of my time with Jesus and watch the world wake up together.
Maybe you only have 20 minutes - that's perfect. I understand - your family wakes up at 6am, and you have chores to do before they rise. Or maybe you work 12 hour shifts and early mornings would never work. Or maybe in this season of your life, your time of quiet is carved out at night. I do think it's harder and the impact on your day may change, but who am I to say that the evening isn't the perfect time for you. The trick is to just find the time and be still.
I'm willing to bet if you found just a bit of personal time of stillness and quiet in the fringe hours of your day, you'd notice a difference.
I'm certainly no expert, but I am practicing. I'm convinced of one thing:
Frayed or full: it's all a matter of what we do in the fringe.
- Invitation to Solitude & Silence by Ruth Haley Barton
- Plotting Forward - this is a FREE e-book I wrote, with a whole "how-to" section on Solitude. Sign up here or below to get your free copy.
*This post was inspired by a book club I've been recently invited to join. Ellen Graf-Martin is a great Canadian leader helping to resource other leaders. Check her out! I'm grateful for Ellen's leadership and generosity!