4am is my newly found acquaintance. One that I was never interested in making.
She’s as punctual as they come. Every morning, right on time. And even though I’ve assured her that I don’t need to witness her arrival, she shakes me awake nonetheless.
She frequently introduces me to her friends, 5am and 6am. Truth be told, I like them even less.
But recently, to my surprise, it seems we have formed an alliance. An uneasy one at first, but her persistence has paid off. I’ve found myself resigned to her inevitable appearance. “So, here we are again. Pull up a chair. I’m listening. What urgent share do you have for me this early morn?”
She always spills.
The thoughts that are rejected by the daytime hours are collected by her willing hands. Reflections which refuse to be drowned out by the noise that sunlight brings. They desire their moment in the spotlight of silence, demanding that they be seen and examined. As soon as 3.59 has breathed a final breath, she rushes in, ready to present her wares.
4am holds armfuls of dark treasure, baskets of words that swim their way over to me. They dive into my mind as though I were the ocean they’d been longing to dip in.
For a long time I greeted this unwelcome awakening with contempt. I resented such robbery of precious sleep and the rude refusal of this uninvited visitor to leave.
And then I saw that she was trying to help me. She’d spent all day tirelessly searching the deepest parts of me so she could show me what I couldn’t see for myself.
We are so very naked in those small hours. All of our vulnerabilities float up to the surface wanting to be loved. There in the shadows we are our truest selves, unedited and unadorned.
Somewhere deep in the restlessness, embedded in the resistance, there is acceptance. Of what is. Of what will be.
Instead of willing sleep to return, I’ve stopped fighting the shifting light. There’s something oddly soothing about it’s reassuring progress. It is symbolic of impermanence. Nothing can remain the same, everything must change.
It is these early morning meetings of truth that have lead me to examine my other reluctant friendships. After all, isn’t reluctance our greatest guide?
Joy tells us what we already know about ourselves. Reluctance speaks differently. It tells us what remains unexamined and unresolved. It’s the crumpled map to our own peace, yet we still resolutely fold the page over and try to find another route. Still. After all these years of our souls guidance.
I used to be disinclined to explore the dark spaces. Far better to turn away and leave the uncomfortable emotions well alone. But I always felt divided somehow. As though if I opened myself up I’d find that I was comprised of two piles: loved and unloved.
How callous we are to our own hearts.
Light and dark do not fight each other. Day and night co-exist in harmony. The melting moon surrenders to the rising sun without complaint. I am learning to acquire the same grace.
If there is a part of me I am reluctant to love then that is my soul speaking, that is my soul saying: Go there, be there, love there.
I’m making friends with Fear and Self Doubt and Not Good Enough. They’re not the enemy, they never were. Just parts of me that need some extra love. I don’t have to hang out with them for hours. I just acknowledge them, say hello, then move on. Some friendships go that way.
4am is teaching me to sit with the feelings. To see them as they are without asking them to be different. She shows me how if I just hold the emotion in my hands, if I just cradle it softly, it might show me some of its story.
I sometimes think that it isn’t revealing who we are to others that scares us. It is revealing who we are to ourselves. To stand in our bare skin and love all of who we are. Not to be selective. Not to look away.
In these moments of silence I am bringing myself back to life. The small child in me trembles as she tries to tell me that she cannot be loved, that she’s too damaged and dreadful and quite unworthy.
In these moments of solitude I am telling her that I love her anyway. That I love her even more. That there is nothing to forgive.
Maybe I’m not as tangled and torn as I sometimes think. Maybe I’m as whole as I ever was, as broken as I never was. Maybe I can throw the memory doors open wide and not be afraid of the past that rushes in.
I’ve fought too hard, too long. I’ve held on too tightly to far too much. And here, now, in the softness of release, I marvel at how easy it is to let go. To surrender to myself. Not to say yes. Not to say no. Only to say nothing and let the early morning moment have its own voice.
There is nothing more necessary than this breath. Nothing more timely than the story that fills this second. Before and after are dead and unborn. They are either expired or yet to exist. There is only now. There is only ever now.
Now holds everything.
Image courtesy of Bill Williams