A Holy Dark

This morning I woke up early. And by early I mean 5AM, which I know is not as early as some of you greet the day, but in my neck of the woods, on these late October days, 5AM is two hours before the sun rises, and therefore, early.


Although the rest of my house was still asleep when I cozied up in our living room, far from feeling alone I felt surrounded by a comforting crowd of early risers. I thought of my friend Anna who lives in Pennsylvania, and routinely rises before the sun to go to her seamstress job. I thought of my grandparents who have always lived by the motto “early to bed, early to rise!” I thought of all the mothers awake before the dawn to hold their precious, fussy babies who refuse to sleep through the night. And I thought of my own mother who has always preferred the peaceful morning hours to other, faster paced moments of the day.

Now, I don’t normally get up at 5AM, but last night I had a stomachache, and chose to go to bed by 9 o’clock, which meant the only way to complete my homework was to wake up before the sun. But although my purpose in getting up early was to work, I found a holy stillness in those pre-dawn hours. I took great joy in my steaming bowl of oatmeal, the twinkly lights in our living room, and listening, for the first time this year, to the Thanksgiving music my mom and I so deeply enjoy.

For the past two years my life has been full of really exciting experiences. First I moved out of my childhood home to a new city, then I ventured to Eastern Europe, next I entered and exited my first serious relationship, and then I spent an exhilarating six weeks in Nepal, with plenty of smaller excitements in between. These experiences have been good, and hard, and stretching, and beautiful, but most of all, they’ve been big. After returning to the states from Nepal, I distinctly remember thinking, “I could use a season of quiet, simple, undramatic everyday life.” And that’s exactly what this season has been. Somehow the big experiences have helped me better appreciate the little beauties hidden in every day. The older I get, the more I realize that I don’t want to take any blessing for granted, no matter how small. As a sweet 92-year-old woman reminded me yesterday, every day is a good day because I am alive!


So Father, thank you for the Holy Dark I experienced this morning. Thank you for using it to energize me, refresh me, and remind me that your mercies are truly new every morning.


10 thoughts on “A Holy Dark

  1. Do you plan on waking up this early regularly now? 🙂 I know what you mean, this summer I would occasionally have to open the coffee shop I work at, which meant getting up at 4 to work at 4:30 to open at 5…That was not very fun. But I always felt to blessed to watch the sun rise and send my customers off to conquer their days in a positive way. Thank you for this post!

    • Probably not, more for reasons of practicality than anything else. However, I will definitely consider doing this from time to time. I also lived the early morning barista life one summer and I agree that it was nice to provide a positive start to my customer’s days.

  2. I used to get up at 5 am every day in high school. I really enjoyed the quiet moments I spent sitting in my room reading or getting ready for the day. I had plenty of extra time so I could get ready for the day at a leisurely pace. Your post really captured what it feels like to be awake in those peaceful hours. Thanks for taking me back, Kelly!

  3. Your post reminds me of 2013, when I was preparing for my Language skills test for studying abroad. At the time, I pretty much woke up at 5 am every day. It was painful, I didn’t get enough sleep, but I had the dream which gave me the motivations to woke up early every morning. I almost forgot those days, the days full of bitter and sweet.

  4. “I found a holy stillness in those pre-dawn hours.” I love this phrase. I, too, woke up a little earlier than I normally do – 6:45, not 5, but since the sun hadn’t risen I’ll still call it a relatively early rise. I sat in my kitchen with my coffee and experienced feelings very similar to the ones you describe. It did seem special to be up before the sun; it did seem like a holy time. I’m glad that we both could have these experiences today! Thanks for sharing!

  5. You paint a beautiful picture of what the world is like before everyone else is up to see it. The quiet, the stillness, the soft light, and the dark…I can see it all. I’m almost tempted to try it myself, except getting up at 7 is already way too early for me. I had to wake up every morning at ten to seven for a full work day, creeping around my dark bedroom, trying not to wake my sister, and then sitting among a bunch of girls, communicating in grumbles as I drank my coffee. Yeah, I think I’ll take as much sleep as I can get. Maybe one day, though, I’ll find myself up early, and take advantage of the extra hours to watch the world come alive.

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