In this rare season when my days are more flexible, and I can set my own schedule, I find myself sleeping in more than I’d like. I think my ideal sleep pattern would be bed at 11pm, waking up at 8am- a good 9 hours of sleep. I was recently discussing this with a man at church, who agreed that different people have varied natural rhythms that their bodies prefer. His preferred to rise early, sleep in the afternoon, and stay up late into the night.
Sometimes I indulge myself in my own preferred sleep schedule. It is honestly a struggle for me to wake up before 8am- it always has been. My dear husband has the opposite schedule, and loves to get up early. I am jealous of his zeal at greeting the morning, his ability to hop out of bed cheerily before 6am. Meanwhile, I groan, roll over, and cover my head with my pillow, thinking, “Just 15 more minutes of sleep, please!”
But when I can make it up earlier, with some time to sit on my porch with a cup of tea and a book, I feel more in balance. Recently, one of the said books that have accompanied me and my cup of tea has been, ironically, “Why I Wake Early,” a book of poetry by Mary Oliver. I have this feeling that you shouldn’t read a book by that title at night, or even at 10am. It should be read early in the morning with a cup of tea in the jungle (okay, the last criteria may not be necessary, though it does describe my current situation).
When I do rise early and read this book, or the Bible, or one of the other many books on my “currently reading” shelf, I am aware of the sacredness of morning. There is often a cool breeze and a chill in the air that feels wonderful. There is also a mist that indicates a very hot day to follow, but at that moment, before the heat melts the mist away, it lovingly blankets the trees and mountains for a few hours. The birds are more active, and just sitting on my porch, I see Social Flycatchers, Great Kiskadees, Sulfur-bellied Flycatchers, Masked Tatyras, Toucans, Blue-crowned Mot mots, and Aracaris. It is a unique and beautiful time of day in the jungle.
And so, I will keep trying to rise early, maybe not every morning, but routinely. As Mary Oliver says in the poem with the same title as her book:
“Watch, now, how I start the day, in happiness, in kindness.”