Mornings

It’s the melancholy of the morning.  The alarm rings and after a moment (or three) I sit upright on the edge of my bed.  I don’t stand, just sit.  Usually it’s still dark, my wife asleep beside me.  In this silent space between sleep and wake, I hear my own breath and exhale slowly.   ‘Here we go again,’ I say to myself.

From there it’s the routines of the bathroom, then upstairs to the kitchen where I make coffee. What follows is that predictable morning liturgy: wake the children, shower, dress, pack the lunches, make the bed, harass the children, make the breakfasts, remind everyone of the time, pack my bag, brush teeth, say my goodbyes and head for the door.  Today, yesterday, tomorrow … the rituals barely change.

It’s in those moments at the beginning of each day, when the melancholy of the morning rests heavily, I sometimes wonder if there is not a more exciting life to be lived, a more riveting place to be than this one.  Occasionally I long for more epiphany than melancholy, but it rarely comes.

In her little book, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women’s Work, the poet Kathleen Norris explores the sacredness of the everyday and our natural aversion to it: ‘We want life to have meaning, we want fulfillment, healing and even ecstasy, but the human paradox is that we find these things by starting where we are, not where we wish we were. We must look for blessings to come from unlikely, everyday places—out of Galilee, as it were—and not in spectacular events.’

To be honest, I could do with some ‘spectacular’ every now and then.  I’ve certainly known it, but amidst the daily routine it’s rare.  Norris prods me though: ‘I have come to believe that the true mystics of the quotidian [the commonplace] are not those who contemplate holiness in isolation, reaching godlike illumination in serene silence, but those who manage to find God in a life filled with noise, the demands of other people and relentless daily duties that can consume the self.’

It is in that early morning moment of sitting on my bed that I feel my humanity most tangibly.  Somewhere between sleeping and waking, my bodily presence has a weight that I can feel. ‘And because we are human,’ Norris says, ‘it is in the realm of the daily and the mundane that we must find our way to God. … In our life of faith, then, as well as in our most intimate relationships with other people, our task is to transform the high romance of conversion, the fervor of religious call, into daily commitment.’

4 Comments

  1. Your comments remind me of the experience of waking up as articulated by Friedrich Buechner in The Alphabet of Grace

    Reply

  2. This is a terrific reflection Simon. Really enjoyed it – and finding out about another Kathleen Norris book. Here’s a poem you might like, published on Eureka Street’s site a couple of years ago:

    Doing the Housework with Brother Lawrence

    Universe wrings down to kitchen size. Turning taps
    loop round Saturn, silver basins glimmer,
    soapsuds build a polar world.

    Pegged to the line, sails swing
    across a sea of couch grass.
    Straw broom rudders over concrete;
    there’s a leaf spray storm to stern.

    Vacuum Unit uproots coins and alien seeds
    from a patterned forest. In the lunar colony,
    the flags of a porcelain State are scrubbed for inspection.

    Pack the spacecrafts into the holding room, send them
    on a water blast mission. Place provisions in the white monolith,
    to the depths of an iced inner world. Then come with me to Vulcan,
    our departure lounge, sit down and drink brown juice
    til the sails are dry. And the kids come home.

    Reply

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