A Clerical Curmudgeon’s Confession

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.

6 thoughts on “A Clerical Curmudgeon’s Confession”

  1. It\’s amazing how a good dog tolerates us so patiently and, given half a chance, helps bring us out of a funk. I think their secret is their inability to speak. Lately, Beighley has made some valiant efforts to speak but hasn\’t quite succeeded yet. So she\’s still a happy, nonjudgmental companion who just listens and gives me a goofy look every now and then. And who could help but smile! Let me know if you ever discover the secret of reading by yourself in a hotel setting at night/early morning without waking your spouse. I agree that the bathroom setting is not ideal! 🙂

  2. Well, I believe that they wonder of dogs is extremely special – their faithfulness, trust, companionship.However, the myth regarding NOT waking a spouse by sitting in the bathroom or balcony to do one\’s reading is highly overrated – sweet, thoughtful but not necessarily a successful routine:)xoxo

  3. Do you have a Palm Pilot? You can get both the Bible and the BCP for Palm, and that way you could sit in the hotel room and pray in the dark without waking up your wife.

  4. Everyone should have a dog! Harry Truman once said, \”If you want to have a real friend in Washington, DC, get a dog!\” I think he meant that if you hold any office, you cannot tell who your friends are until you are out of office and can do no more to help them or hurt them! I recall a friend once years ago who said that the only reason he needed to go to church is because he did not have a dog!

  5. i wonder what andy\’s routine is when you are not around? does he then go about curmudgeonly throughout his day? i wonder, because i have been told that my dog is prone to even less activity (i know that\’s hard to believe) when i am not available to sit by him in the early morning or snuggle with him before bedtime.do you think they would confess to foibles if they could speak? i think there\’s even more to learn from these \”silent\” companions. (i say silent, because i have a feeling that andy\’s eyes are speaking volumes when he looks into yours!)

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