New hope every morning

There are a lot of hymns about the mornings. I have only noticed this in the last year. Perhaps it is because I have only started to take account of the power of mornings. Growing up the males in my family were no friend of mornings, we were night hawks and we stayed up all night and then slept in as often and as late as possible. Even as a student and working person I dreaded the morning, endured its arrival, made the best of the wee hours of the day. But in the last eight years I have adopted a new lifestyle, one where I rise at 6 am. I have not been able to shake the late nights, my body and spirit still seem to crave the late evenings of work, reading and CSPAN.

So now it is a seven day cycle of rising at 6 am and going to sleep between 1 and 2 am. And one of the positive things to come from this change is my appreciation for mornings. I now love the morning, I love the sun peeking out from the darkness, the stillness (except for the birds) of all that is around me, the smell of coffee, the freshness of the shower, the excitement of the day that awaits. This is all so new and so invigorating and I am thankful for this new way of being.

In the last few weeks I have met a number of people going through the kind of crisis that is very, very painful in the short term but most likely, with time, will ease into a new reality with potentially new experiences, relationships and growth. As a pastoral care giver I would never, ever suggest to someone in the midst of this struggle that “it’s all going to get better.” For one thing there is no guarantee it will improve. But in the back of my mind I know most scenarios like the ones I have been hearing do turn around, life has a way of unfolding that way. Usually in the middle part of our lives we go through these painful disruptions, transitions and changes, none of which we welcome or celebrate but most of which lead to something that gives new life.

I stay in close contact with these folks, I usually call or email them to check in. The loss of a relationship, job or home is a most challenging time, and no one should go through it alone. When I have spoken to these people, when they have come out on the other side of despair, I ask them what helped them through the dark times. Almost all of them tell me that when they heard from people who had “been there” and these folks explained that there is a new day it made all the difference. This is NOT the same as patting people on the head and telling them, “there, there, it is going to be all right.” That is presuming more than we ought. Rather, telling someone there is hope because you’ve seen it, well that does make a positive difference.

I remember a scene in “Good Will Hunting” where Matt Damon’s character is having a break through moment and his counselor played by Robin Williams hugs him and says, “It’s going to be alright.” Those words DO NOT imply that life will forever, from that moment, be filled with milk and honey. What the words do mean is that there is hope and hope will come, in a moment, in a day, in a week, in a year.

Every morning I feel that possibility, no matter how painful the day, how challenging the week, how rotten I feel, I know the morning brings new hope. Thanks be to God.