…The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want…
~ The Essential Rumi, Coleman Barks
I’ve always been an early bird, although as I age and sleep less, I seem to enjoy the late hours, too; both ends of the day seem to hold more silence and mystery, inviting deeper meditation time. But there’s a clarity at dawn and a kind of in-breath about the coming light and gift of the day that is absent in the hushed day’s aftermath of dusk. Dawn is anticipation; dusk is the slow out-breath of gratitude for the day. Late night has just become a kind of mysterious stillness, a via negativa emptying time, a final day’s examen that leads to a peaceful sweetness before dreaming.
My father was an early riser, too. His own eagerness and excitement about the new day is something I also seem to have genetically brought forward from some ancient Celtic ancestor.
No matter what the previous day held, the new day is a tabula rasa, full of possibility and certain to offer up its own surprises. It is good to have at least a few moments’ silence to welcome and enter the day with gratitude and clarity, and, as Rumi suggests, to ask of the day what I really want of it; which, I believe, presumes an exchange of energy: I will receive, in part, to the extent I give. I’m reminded, too, that Rumi entreats us to stay awake, less we miss the blessings that cram our days with wonder.
With six 4-leggeds, however, soon and faithfully, “love calls us to the things of the world” (a beautiful poem of Richard Wilbur’s, which you can hear him read here: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/22139). Subsequent morning rituals demand their enactment.
Phillip takes the dogs, Riley and Clancy, for their morning constitutional while I feed the four cats, Finnegan, Fiona, Mulligan, and Murphy. When the dogs return, they bound up the stairs, full of their joyful, expectant energy regarding a new day’s promise, and then bark at me until I fetch a container of treats and sing the melodically vaudevillian “Morning Party” song:
It’s a party
For the babies,
A party for the babies who are sweet;
It’s a party
For the babies…
Now it’s time to have the Morning Party treat!
What it lacks in poetic depth, it more than makes up for in its enthusiastic reception. Riley jumps (to a startling elevation) in rhythm with the song and percussion of the shaken treat container, and both dogs bark along with my apparently endurable rendition.
The cats, with perfect feline nonchalance, dependably approach the perimeter of excitement—careful to avoid positioning themselves too closely to one-Riley-leaping— and sometimes deign to contribute their voices to the song…it’s quite a production.
When the song is over and I sit on the floor, the 4-leggeds gather in and sit as well, taking their chosen places in the circle, and treats are doled out as their names are called.
I cannot remember how our Morning Party started, but it has often entertained guests who find it hard to believe the animals will daily gather, sit at their same places in the circle, and peacefully share in the “party.” I have considered that the 4-leggeds’ routine participation may just be “anything for a treat,” but I sense it’s more.
I hope it’s due to the hugely instinctual need that all of creation yearns for and satisfies with daily communion; in beginning our work, our art, our relationships, and our days with a love that is inclusive, dependable, and unconditional.
May the breeze at dawn call you into this love and communion as well, and grace your daily round with fair meetings and partings. Let the secrets of the day unfold; don’t go back to sleep.