Let the Day Begin
(I wrote this column five years ago for a magazine, but the incident almost happened again, so it feels like I just wrote it yesterday.)
"What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?” asked a little kid in one of my book talks.
I gave him a few answers, but he said all of them were wrong.
With wisdom belying his young eyes, he remarked (it seemed more like an admonition from an old professor to a truant student), “You should first pray and thank God for the new day.”
Why, of course! How could have I missed that?
From that day on, I had to be conscious that before I rose from bed for my morning walk, I should first be grateful to the Lord for the grace of a new day.
My day begins just a few minutes before 5 A.M. By five, I am shod in my walking outfit, with a pedometer to measure my steps, a hat to protect me from the dawn draft, and a long stick to ward off street dogs.
On one of these mornings, I prayed upon waking up, donned my walking gear, then went for my one-hour exercise. It was unusually dark; I thought there must be a storm brewing.
After ten minutes, I was ready to greet Mang Ramon, the newspaper man who delivered the dailies in the neighborhood and the first person I'd see on the street every day. No sign of his bike anywhere. I thought he might be sick.
In another ten minutes, I expected to meet Aling Baby, the lady who attended mass at the same hour daily. No shadow of her either. I presumed she overslept.
I gingerly walked by the big house with the most rabid dog that gnarled when it heard my footsteps. Not even a yip. I thought it might have been on vacation somewhere.
It was the eeriest morning—there were no stray cats and the school buses plying their route at that hour were nowhere to be found. I couldn't even hear the roosters usually crowing from somewhere. Alarmed, I asked myself, What is happening to this neighborhood?
Panicking (after I had already walked half an hour), I ran back home. Upon opening our front door, the clock stared at me. It was only 4:30 in the morning! I woke up one hour too early!
I laughed so hard my husband stirred from his deep sleep, “What's wrong?”
After I had told him the story, he didn't think it was funny, so he went back to bed.
Good mornings begin with a prayer and a mix-up such as this!