I’ve got a morning routine, and I surprise myself at how disrupted my day becomes if I cannot adhere to it. Part of it is ritual. At somewhere between 5:30 and 6:00 I get restless and turn over to find faithful Andy staring me in the face wagging his tail. Once he sees my eyes open, even a little, there is not much chance of rolling over for another few minutes of sleep. Then it’s a quiet exit for the two of us leaving my wife and Riley behind – Riley being another dog – a trip to the bathroom, lights on in my study and three cups of coffee to be made in the kitchen. With cup in hand it’s back to the study for Morning Prayer with all the psalms and readings for the entire day of offices. That’s the ritual part. But for me, Morning Prayer is not so much ritual as deep meditation that can lead to prolonged conversation with God or an investigative side trip into some question raised by the readings.
One of the blessings of retirement is that I seldom have an early morning conflict that interferes with my morning routine, but when one does I’m off kilter the rest of the day. We also travel more now, and Morning Prayer sitting on the toilet in the hotel bathroom so as not to wake up my wife is just not the same thing. I’ve tried the bathtub, but that’s even more uncomfortable. You would think it easier at clergy conferences, especially since they are held at a Roman Catholic retreat center, but some other early riser will almost always find me and sit down for a bit of cheerful conversation. Which brings me to my confession. I am not a congenial person in the morning. I imagine that even God is happy to maintain a certain distance. It takes that morning routine, including plenty of prayer, to bring me into a state of mental coherence and reasonable likeability. Only faithful Andy can tolerate me in that first hour or so.