We spent a lovely weekend at the beach with our friends, who have really become family — and due to a lucky aligning of the scheduling stars, were able to stay an extra night and drive back this morning. My husband, the human traffic sensor, did not want to chance the morning rush hour, however, so we were on the road before six, when the world was still dark — speeding across the farmland of the Eastern Shore with the highway mostly to ourselves.
I started to think (because I couldn’t do much else at that hour) about how seldom I had had to wake that early. 5:30 is normal for a lot of people, including many of my students, who attend swim practice before school or face hourlong commutes from other states. My own commute is walkable, and I’ve never had a homeroom, so the earliest I’ve had to face the world is several hours after they are up and running. What a blessing, to wake with the sun or well after it!
Yet, as I watched the white fog settle in pillowy sheets on the flat fields, and the ghostly, dark forms of cattle moving among the newly-plowed grasses, I wondered at the beauty of the early morning that I almost, again, missed — and that was even before the sun started to rise.
A lot must depend on where you are in the world, I suppose. When I lived in New York I would sometimes walk to church for a midweek Liturgy in the early morning, and the dark alleyways and still-drunk residents of the street seemed awfully sinister. Even here in the suburbs, the most I could hope for would be the romantic drone of the trash truck or the shriek of school-bus brakes. Maybe it’s just out in the wilderness where we can watch morning unfold as God intended it to.