The early morning hours are my favorite. The stillness, the quiet, the darkness just before the dawn. This is when the hope of a new day, and all its anticipations, greet me and cause an excitement to stir in my soul. I’m the only morning person in my home and so this time belongs only to me and God – so I soak it all up and take it all in.
This time of day, when the sun hasn’t cracked the horizon just yet and the world around me is asleep, I feel connected to my roots and I’m reminded of who I am. Growing up on the farm, the days started at 4 a.m. when the hum of the barn motor would kick on. From my bed, I could look out and see the lights of the farm truck making its way around the pastures bringing cattle to the barn for that first milking of the day. It was a rhythm that I could count on and peace would settle over me knowing that all was right in the world for another day.
The summer that I was nine years old I petitioned my dad to let me learn to milk the cows. He questioned me a little, making sure I understood that every morning would begin early, there would be no sleeping in. I was enthusiastic and convinced him to give me a chance and so, with great patience, he did. I remember climbing in to the old green farm truck, brand new rubber boots on my feet, excited to see the process from a different angle. Instead of looking out my bedroom window at the lights of the truck across the pasture I was looking across the pasture at the dim lights of the house and the lamp I’d left on in my bedroom. That may have been my first real life lesson on perspective.
I think it was then, that very summer, that I learned to appreciate the early mornings even more than before. Those dark hours in the barn before the sun came up, the hum of the milk machines pulsing, WBAP blaring on the radio. The sound of feed dropping from the loft to the bins below met with dad humming and the cows shifting in their stalls. There was a pace to the barn but it wasn’t chaotic, it was graceful, peaceful, almost like a dance.
Eventually, the darkness would slip away and the sun would come up across the east pasture. I would crawl through the railings and slip outside to catch the first glimpse of the orange hues breaking the night sky. Dad would laugh and shake his head like he expected it to get old, but it just never did.
Those mornings went too quickly and before I knew it, the summer was over and it was time to go back to school. I returned to the classroom that year fully convinced that one day I would grow up and work as a milk maid. Now, 40 years later, those mornings are etched in my brain and stand among my favorite memories from my childhood. If I close my eyes tight and take a deep breath I can be transported back to that summer, back to that barn. I’ve cherished that those days always, but even more so now, with daddy gone.
Maybe it’s growing up on the farm that makes me love the mornings so much, or maybe it’s just my natural God given nature. Whatever the reason, wherever I go, I still love the darkness just before the dawn, the fresh start, the hope and the rhythm of watching the world slowly wake up around me. God’s word says it better than I ever could – Joy comes in the morning!
For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalms 30:5
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Psalms 143:8