When I was a boy, I used to spend my summers in Montana with my grandparents. Part of the morning ritual in the summer was listening to my grandfather fumble in the kitchen for the “Sanka” – the original instant coffee. There was the sound of a kettle, a toaster popping, opening and closing of doors, and the heel of cowboy boots on the concrete garage floor. We would go out into the early summer chill of the Montana morning to catch the horses for the ride later in the day. My job was to carry a rubber pan full of feed through the waist high grass and thistles that were soaked with dew; I would come back soaked and freezing to the bone. A bracing beginning to the day.
Later when I was in boarding school, I would sometimes be awakened by the loud banging of garbage trucks picking up dumpsters, and slamming them down again, amid the dark dormitories. 4.30 – 5.00 – 5.30 am. These have always been my times to rise. In the 9th grade I would go down to the school cafeteria at 5.45 to read a book, study, and sit with two of the coaches as breakfast was being prepared for the students. There was a kind of holiness about that time, and sitting with those coach/teachers.
Through the years these early hours have become my own morning watch with God. Sometimes when I open the Bible, or some other companion book from the saints, I feel like that boy going out into a wide mountain pasture hoping that the horses of the Spirit will come and partake of my little portion of feed. Or I feel like the boy who went into a basement cafeteria in the morning darkness to sit with his elders, like some boy a long time ago walking the stony streets of Jerusalem to sit quietly with the elders at the Kotel and offer prayers for the good of my nation and myself.
And now that I am older I am trying to “discover” the habit of the morning watch with the youth in my world. And so we rise early, sit over coffee and pastry, say a few prayers, share a few joys and sorrows, and then go out into the pasture of the day in the hopes that some of it has been redeemed through our prayerful intentions.
My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. – Psalm 5:3
The Kotel live web cam from Jerusalem