Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Delicious Hours

Some folks call them the "witching hours," but, to me, they are the delicious hours. That elastic period of time in the dead still of night, roughly between the hours of midnight and 3 AM, where little night owls like me get our hoots in ("funny hoots" as Sadie would say).

I love this time of night. I'm not always up at this time, but when I am, it still retains for me that sort-of wicked unlawfulness that so filled me with exuberance and glee as a child and teen. There is something a little fey about padding around in the stillness, trying not to awaken baby or husband, reading books or typing on the computer or just staring out the window. I used to work with a wonderful man of faith named John Gabriel who, when my work schedule was changed to early morning shifts and I was voicing my dismay at having to abandon my nighttime prowls, reminded me of the great Biblical patriarchs who experienced especial closeness to God in the breaking hour of dawn, yadda, yadda, yadda... God did not make me to be a patriarch, that is for sure, and I am certain He created me to be the late-night delinquent that I am. Believe me, I have never felt particularly close to Him in those vile, alarm-clanging, eye-crusty-rubbing, yawning, often softly-swearing moments of early morning awakenings. My greatest moments of prayer and devotion and meditation have all come when the sun has set and the stars are out. But, John also gave me one of those great, zinging, change-your-perspective, never-leave-you moments when he responded to another one of my complaining bouts, (I really don't complain as much as you may think I do by reading this post. Really.) wherein I emphatically stated that I "hated" something, with the reminder that, "We [humans] do not hate anything even half as much as God hates sin." So, John and his guilt-inducing patriarch statement will elude my censure, because his sin statement will always fill me with such gratitude.

I blame my dad a little too for these late-night revels. He was (and, to some extent, still is) the consummate night-owl, always up late, lurking. He taught me by example to lurk with aplomb, and I embraced the lurking lifestyle with a fervor that could only do him proud. We would watch TV together or read in silent, harmonious companionship or talk about anything and everything. We would snack devilishly on all sorts of inedibles that would have caused my mother incredible heartache had she been privy to the deed. It is probably the memories of these wonderful bonding sessions that makes me think of this time of night as "delicious." Those were just sweet, sweet times, my dad and I, two peas in a pod, cut of the same cloth, the little apple and her tree. These times are always what I hope to recreate somehow when we visit nowadays, but...well, travel fatigue and age are a hindrance on his side and family responsibilities are a hindrance on mine. Though Dad and I try valiantly to recapture our routine and lurking ways, I guess those golden nights are mostly gone. I hope he knows how much I miss them, and how grateful I am that they will live forever in my memory, growing sweeter still with each passing year.

Carolyn Arends once wrote in a song that part of God's code that we can't (or won't) decode is the "way our hearts beat, faced with the sunrise, like maybe they know something we don't." I don't know if my heart's ever done somersaults at the sight of a sunrise; if it does, I'm usually too grouchy and in need of coffee to notice (sorry, heart). But, I have felt that furious beating when contemplating the great expanse of black night sky and countless starry holes - that feeling that something wonderful is going to happen or is happening or maybe just happened. God is in the night as much as the day, and, don't forget, He made the night first (I know He worked His way up during Creation, but He picked a good place to start). May He bless the night owls everywhere.

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