At five in the morning, it seems like no one is alive. The roads are cool and misty and lonely. The houses that line the fields or sit beneath a scattering of trees seem frozen in time, an in between time where the birds chirp and squirrels chitter and the sun hovers on the eastern horizon as if unsure of its path for the day. I know, because for the past several weeks, I have been waking up for some unknown reason, awake and refreshed, even though my mind is telling me that I just went to bed a few hours ago.

I have been dreading, and hoping, for this strange pattern for some time.

About two months ago a friend of mine told me how he kept waking up at 5:21 in the morning. He did so for a month straight and wondered why. After a little bit of thought he realized that something deeper in him was calling, asking for a few minutes of his time before the business of the day came and stole away his moments and his thoughts. He obediently woke and began to spend his time in his bible and in prayer.

I listened to his story and wanted to plug my ears. “Oh, no! You don’t want to hear this. What if it happens to you!”

Fortunately, my maker was kind to me. He gave me eight more minutes to sleep than my friend. A month passed and soon, I kept waking at 5:29 in the morning, more than an hour before I needed to get up. I set no alarm, I didn’t drink a lot of fluids the night before, it wasn’t hot, I did nothing in fact that could have woken me up that early. Some mornings, I groaned and rolled over and tried to plug my ears against the soft whispering of my spirit. But it seems to me that God is a persistent friend, never really giving up on me, and always presenting me with the choice. Go deeper. Or remain who and where you are… what will it be this morning?

I have never really had trouble waking up early. As a teen, I spent my summers opening at Burger King, and a few years later working the opening shift at Cracker Barrel. I didn’t mind, well, not after those first fifteen minutes where I groaned and sighed and muttered. But after I was up and on the road, I felt invigorated. I was getting a jump on other people. By the time the day was half old, I was getting ready to go home and do the things I wanted to do, when many were just starting.

The years have changed though and I am very much a man of rhythms. My body has adapted to its own unique rhythm. I know what I can eat, and those things I can’t. I know how much sleep I need, what sports I can play and for how long, and when I am dehydrated. I know the kind of things people do that will make me angry and I know where to go when I need to be revitalized. And I know that waking up at five is madness.

But presented with a choice of more or less, why would I choose less? Forty years down the road I won’t remember the extra hour of sleep I got. However, I might remember the things I do during those morning hours, or the direct result of them. I might be healthier for the miles I run, happier for the peace and calm my spirit finds, or have done the little things that got me to my big goals, or spent time praying over my little son Johnnie in the room next door long before he rises so that he too may find his way.

So I whispered back, Ok, if you are going to wake me this early, then I am going to trust that I won’t be sleepy. And I haven’t been. In fact, those mornings that I wake late, I feel more tired than I do when I get up at five. Other things go easier as well. Little troubles that might have plagued are gone. The article I needed to write that normally takes six hours, takes only an hour. I get the lights on the way to work and shave off ten minutes of my commute. The old lady who was going to back into my car and ruin half my day and take away some of the money in my bank account is five minutes behind me on the road.

I appreciate all of these things. They are tangible benefits. My favorite part of those early mornings though is the quiet. Walking in the quiet and letting it seep into me. Perhaps because my mind is still somewhat groggy a different part of me takes over. I pound out a few miles on the pavement, a lanky giant stumbling more than running, keeping my body occupied. That leaves only my heart and my spirit and the voice whispering to them. I try to listen to what the maker of these quiet mornings is trying to tell me.

Some mornings I hear him loud and clear, some mornings he listens to me, and some mornings we just enjoy the quiet together.

© Seth Crossman