This morning I walked in the bright sunshine after days of frigid rain had washed the earth, making everything clean and new. The pansies that line the walkway were trapped in a thin layer of ice, but their purple and yellows peeking through were enough to remind me that spring is in sight. How glad I was that I’d layered up in the 28 degrees to start the day with a walk and witness the newness of the morning.
Truth is, I’ve always been a morning person– so getting out, first thing, even in the cold, isn’t a stretch for me. I credit part of my love of the early hours to my childhood growing up on a farm. In the summer, we’d get up before sunrise to work either on our farm, or a neighbor’s, ‘barning’ tobacco– or harvesting the ripe green leaves and curing them in the tobacco barns. While I didn’t always get out of bed readily, Mama calling me several times– probably because I was up too late the night before, there was a bit of excitement in anticipating the day ahead. The fun part of working in tobacco, was you never knew who’d show up to help– meaning, what boys would be working that day.
But besides that girl-looking-for-boy pull, I did like watching how the rising sun changed the appearance and the tone of everything. There was always fresh energy as we approached our task– knowing it would be a long day working outside in the heat and humidity of North Carolina– the July weather the South is known for. By mid-day, the sun beating down would bleach everything out, and my energy would be spent, the heat and bright light replacing the magical unfolding hues of early morning. By that time, I just wanted to go home but there would be hours of finishing that day’s work before we could leave.
I find that my spirit is more open and hopeful at the beginning of the day. I’m drawn to Bible verses that highlight the morning. One of my favorites has become a prayer for those early walks:
“Morning by Morning, O Lord
You hear my voice;
Morning by Morning
I lay my requests before you
Psalm 5:3 NIV
That just seems like the perfect way to start the day.
When I was in the process of Indie publishing my memoir, I had to come up with a name for my company. After trying out many to see if they’d already been taken as a business name, I was able to use Morning by Morning Publishing; seemed right for me. Those early strolls often influence what I’ll write later.
Another favorite Psalm that speaks of the hope of morning is Psalm 143:8 NIV:
“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 lift up my soul.”
For me, this verse means the most after a long night. Whether it’s a ‘dark night of the soul’ spent in miserable sleeplessness, working through something that won’t let you go, or a night of listening to the breath of a dear one who is hanging onto life– the fact that you made it to sunrise is a sign of God’s love. Making it ’til morning feels like evidence that God was present during a night you thought you wouldn’t survive. Sunrise brings another chance at hope, that things may change in the clear light of a new day.
During my years of taking solo journeys, I’ve brought back fond memories of early mornings in new places, making discoveries of that area and of myself in the freshness of the day. I took my solo journey to Jekyll Island, GA the year I turned fifty. My first morning there was filled with splendor on that semi-tropical island. I wrote about it in my memoir, He Heard My Voice on p. 76 of Ch. 4, Child’s Play:
“I rode my bike to the north end of the island where the path made a half-mile loop through the marsh. It was amazing to be the only one riding in that early morning wonderland of egrets hunting for food and turtles sunning on driftwood. The air was ripe with the smell of salt water and sludge. The tide was out as the water level was low, and tiny crabs scurried against the muddy bottom. I stood on a footbridge and looked at a bare tree with a huge crow sitting on one of the limbs, an occasional caw-caw interrupted by the playful sound of a nearby gull.”
Later a hymn came to me:
“I walked slowly along the path, feeling thankful that such an amazing place was there for me. I started running, and then the words of a favorite old hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness” floated to the surface.”
I sang that hymn and witnessed the grandeur of creation stretching out before me. In the quiet of that place, in the unfolding morning light, I felt the words of the chorus:
“Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me”
(written by Thomas O. Chisholm and William Runyon)
On that trip, at that moment, I felt the mercy of a journey that would bring healing and wholeness. Now, almost sixteen years later, I still see those mercies in the morning light better than after the day wears me down. When my body is rested, my eyes fully open, and my heart is expectant, then anything is possible that day.
Great is God’s faithfulness to me, and to you. May you find new mercies for your journey.
Blessings to you.
My memoir is filled with accounts of the morning. It’s available through Amazon in paperback and Ebook.