Morning Moments

by Becky Strom

From the depths of my deep sleep I rise to the place of awareness, like a dolphin that reaches for the water’s surface. Neither the jarring sounds of my pager, screaming out an emergency nor my alarm clock, the messenger of structure and schedules have been the harbingers of this day’s beginning. Instead this morning I am able to glide slowly and peacefully into wakefulness, lazily lying in bed with the covers up to my chin.

The crisp morning air blows in my window yet I lie cozy and warm. I am not quite ready to move, seeming more like a bear just waking up, preparing to come out of her cave in the spring. Yet, while my eyes are still shut, clouded by the night’s dreams, my ears have opened wide and are alert to the morning of a world also awakening, filling with sounds that are welcoming me to the beginning of this day and I pause to listen. What do I hear?

It is garbage day and the garbage truck rolls by, grunting and groaning, lumbering with its load as it stops at each house. Grab. Lift. Dump. Replace. Its necessary and repetitious tasks denied any respect for the work that it does. Its value overlooked and perceived as dealing only with junk and trash, the throwaway parts of our lives. I wonder what stories could be found in the unwanted loads of garbage? Stories that may never be told or heard. Stories destined to be denied or forgotten.

Next I recognize the school bus. Children being transported to places of learning where truths will be taught and forgotten. Remnants rise to the edges of buried memory of my own waiting for the school chariot to whisk me away to the great halls of learning. Each day the bus travels faithfully back and forth. Same route. Same children. Same schedule. Its color and size announces its presence to the world that it carries precious cargo while children, swallowed up by this wide mouthed yellow monster are carried away to schools for their days work.

Traffic sounds grow heavier. Growling cars crying out for much needed repairs pass while their younger siblings only whisper as they drive by; heavy base notes from radios vibrate my windows; music, news, weather and traffic reports are carried on the wind, while drivers ride within their steel steeds on their way to work or play.

As I lay there, continuing to listen, another world begins to break through the sounds of technology and humanity. Though not quiet, these sounds are subtle and rather than demanding my attention I must fine tune my ears to different levels of listening and hearing so as not to miss them. They are the sounds of a world mused into being by an artist creator. These sounds call me into a different world, stirring something inside me and calling to deeper levels of my being even as I discern their presence. These are the sounds of nature.

From multiple directions birds sing their report, offering unique and individual notes to the musical symphony of the morn: sitting in their nests warming vulnerable eggs or chicks, searching on the ground for breakfast that might dare to raise its head, balancing on telephone wires surveying the world below. Together they make music and the symphony of songs build as each bird participates in their individual morning rituals.

Their early morning beckoning tell me to wake up, wake-up, get-up, day is a wasting. I smile, appreciating the beauty of their songs. Contrasting the music is the cackling and screeching by some other avian voices. Birds yelling out what sounds like irritation causing me to wonder…is someone or something invading their territory? Is there a competitor for food? A threat to an egg or a newly hatched chick by an enemy seeking breakfast? Is its mate late to the nest? This is no soft or gentle song, but more like the grating sound of nails running down a chalkboard. Irritating and demanding. Yet also part of the morning’s arrival.

I hear the baby birds, newly hatched, snug in the nest just under my eaves waiting impatiently for their parents to come fill their empty stomachs. As food arrives, the chirping gets louder with hungry anticipation as the parent flies in, steps onto the nest’s edge and deposits the food into wide-open mouths. Does one baby win out over the other siblings or is the food divided evenly? Who gets the prized worm or bug? I really doubt that it is the early bird who got the worm but the loudest and most aggressive.

It would be easy to hear only the birds as they take front stage with their voices. Yet there more sounds to be heard. The neighbor’s dogs bark even before I recognize the sound of the sirens that seem to set them off. I wonder if the high pitches pound on their eardrums causing them pain. Busy chatter interrupts as squirrels playing tag with each other run up and down tree trunks, claws clattering on the bark. Branches send out a swishing sound as the squirrels leap from one branch to another. They gibber back and forth and I can picture in my head the swishing of their tails. Full. Bushy. Strong. I smile thinking of the agile antics of the squirrels when trying to steal seed from my birdfeeders.

The air moving through the trees and into my window is like a gentle whisper today, not strong or harsh. I like to imagine that I can hear my gardens grow, and believe that when I open my eyes the grass will be greener, and flowers will be brighter.

With a sigh and a reckoning, I know that finally it is time to get up – that I am fully awake. I can no longer linger and my morning pause in my nest has come to an end. Unlike most busy days, this one has begun on a special note. With my pause I started the day with silence within, creating space and time to hear sounds from my world without that are too often missed or ignored. But today I have heard and now I am really ready to embrace and engage a new day