Satisfy us in the morning with thy steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

~ Psalm 90:14 (RSV)

This past weekend, I had the privilege to attend a birthday party for a little girl named Alba Maria. Alba is Italian for dawn or sunrise, and her name honors Our Lady under the title of Mary the Dawn.

There is a long history in the Catholic Church of understanding Mary’s role in the Incarnation through analogous titles. This title is a fairly recent one, surfacing in a mid-20th century song, but it seems particularly beautiful to me.

I’m a reluctant morning person. My alarm usually gets a few bitter glares before I begin to stir. But, once I’m up, I can become chatty fairly quickly and really enjoy the quiet, half-light and maybe a cup of tea and Bible time before the kids wake up like a ravenous stampede of puppies.

As I painted this little picture for our friend’s daughter, it gave me time to reflect on how much I need to embrace the dawn. The crisp air and rose-tinged sky are God’s gentle reminders to begin fresh every day. Waking up slowly allows us to merely be, and to recall that God delights in our being, not just our doing.  A beautiful sunrise prods our hearts towards wonder, awe, reflective silence, and joyful anticipation of the sun’s warmth. I think this is exactly the effect that Mother Mary has on those who are open to her promptings.

When we embrace mystery and wonder at the start of our day, we realize that there is a greater reality than our dirty dishes and to do lists. Our efforts and works of the day are important, but only in so far as they serve a greater purpose. The sun seems to rise amidst a celebration; the sky is quietly adorned in swaths of airy color suspended above the veil of mist over the ground, waiting for its Lord.

How would it change your day to welcome each new day this way, like the dawn?

You rise slowly and gracefully with gratitude and prayer. You take time to prepare yourself and your day, not for the sake of efficiency (though proper preparation often does end up having that added result) but for the sake of beginning a day with beauty–in dress, in food, in quiet, in connection with your loved ones.

I can sit and imagine this and desire it … and simultaneously know that tomorrow the littles may wake before my alarm, that solving some small emergency will thwart my attempts at tea, and my prayer time will be cut short.

But even a faint dawn is worth appreciating. And, learning to embrace my mornings instead of becoming an irascible automaton the second I get out of bed, can soothe the irritations that busy family life is apt to offer by giving a larger perspective and sense of worth. Then, a tumult of woken feet can become a dash for hugs, an overly long dream-telling can become a gift, and interruptions can become opportunities. God help me!

God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.

~ Psalm 46:5 (NASB)


Disclaimer: That last Psalm is talking about a river, but it seems nicer applied to myself … coffee in hand, perhaps.