Before Dawn

May 21, 2011

I haven’t always been a morning person. A poster of Snoopy draped over his doghouse declaring “I think I’m allergic to morning” hung in my bedroom throughout my teenage years. As the mother of teens, I have to wonder whether it’s physically possible for a teenager to be a morning person. But I digress….

Nearly every morning for the past decade or so, I’ve woken before everyone in the house and slipped out the door for an hour or so of movement — usually running but sometimes walking. Most days I’m alone although Wednesdays are reserved for a walk with Liz, a sister-friend from childhood (4th grade at the Pleasant Street School) who lives 1.5 miles away.

As I run through the streets, my mind kicks into gear. Sometimes I let thoughts pour out and flow where they will. Like someone gathering seashells — picking up each one, considering it for a moment, then putting it aside into a pile, perhaps to be gathered later or perhaps to be washed back into the sea.

Sometimes I mentally grab a topic and mull it over — thinking of conversations that I need or want to have (or wish I’d handled better), organizing a work project, drafting something I need to write (and hoping I’ll remember it by the time I get home). Always I pray, thanking the good Lord for getting me up and out, for a body that works even when achy or slow, for a safe place to run, for my many blessings, especially those still sleeping at home. And then there’s my list — friends, family, people I’ve never met (friends’ parents or siblings, colleagues, even world leaders) who may need a bit of extra help during the day — I pray that they’ll feel peace, strength, love, courage, and grace when they need it the most. And really, who can’t use a little of that each day?!

Of course, there are mornings, especially in the dark days of winter when the sun doesn’t rise until after 7 or when I’ve only had a handful of hours of sleep, when I’m tempted to stay in bed. But I know that if I don’t spend some time with just myself, I’ll feel unsettled for much of the day.

A few years ago, I discovered a poem that captures perfectly what I’d, until then, been unable to explain about why this morning routine is so important to me. This quirky print hangs by my back door.

Before Dawn

I’ve always like the time before dawn
because there’s no one around to
remind me who I’m supposed to be, so
it’s easier to remember who I am.

Brian Andreas of StoryPeople

When a friend who’s a developmental psychologist saw the print, she said, “Oh, of course, you’re not ‘in relation’ to anyone at that point.”  Exactly. I’m not a mother, wife, worker, sister, or friend. All those are part of me, but for an hour or so before dawn each day, I’m just me.


One Response to “Before Dawn”

  1. Anna Gretta Says:

    Thank you MaryAnn for the lovely and inspirational words, like a warm blanket pulled over my shoulders. I hope you have a lovely Saturday, and I hope more than anything you have some lovely sunbeams bouncing off your head today.


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