I’m an early riser though I have not always been. As a teenager, I could easily sleep until noon on any given day during the summer. When I was married with children (or with an only child), I relished sleeping in on Saturdays when no one had to go to work or to school.
These days, I usually rise before dawn. Actually I like it, having the first hour of the day in quietness. Please, don’t ask me questions or require me to do chores. Make no demands of me. It is my “quiet time” to spend with Bible open and coffee cup full.
I sit where I can open a window, weather permitting; and this time of year, the weather permits it daily. I listen to the silence of the predawn. And I listen for the bird that sings in the dark. He sings before the breaking of day. He sings with the hope of morning even before a glint of first light.
I have wondered at that bird. Why does he sing alone when it is still so black outside? I realize his Creator made him for such a task. He is the one who wakes first and begins his warble. Later, others will join him. By the time the first glow of pink-orange sun rays show in the east, a cacophony of bird songs echo through the window.
Speaking of singing while it is still dark . . .
I met Mary Lou at Sunday School class when Sweet William and I first “found our place” at Little Flock Baptist Church.
Shortly after we began attending the class, Mary Lou discovered she had cancer. The dreaded C-word wrecked havoc on her body, causing her to suffer much and to lose her hair. There were weeks she didn’t have the strength to come to church. But when she came, she smiled her faith. I was drawn to her.
I know there were days when she didn’t feel like smiling or couldn’t smile. But each time I saw her, she smiled with a hope that her God was faithful even during chemo treatments.
As hair loss set in Mary Lou came to Sunday School with pretty scarves tied on her head or wearing a saucy hat that matched her outfit. And she wore that signature smile.
Mary Lou and I exchanged emails on occasion during those trying days. Hers were faith-filled and God-honoring. While I tried to encourage her, inevitably she ended up encouraging me. She was singing in the dark.
Mary Lou’s hair has grown out now, and she is a cancer survivor. Her smile still warms my heart. She is a warrior, and I have witnessed her courageous song.
More recently another friend, Sharon, heard her cancer diagnoses and expects surgery in the coming weeks. When she told me about the test results, a smile graced her lips and peace countenanced her face. Every day via email she sends me and many others a “good thought for the day.” She is singing in the dark.
Yet another young friend is enduring the heartache of brokenness that won’t be mended. I feel helpless as I see her world crumbling beneath her. Still she smiles, she laughs, and she sings to the glory of her Savior’s praise though her darkness is long and unrelenting.
I am reminded of many Biblical characters who sung in the dark: Job when everything was taken from him; Abraham as he walked toward the mountain of sacrifice; Paul and Silas after a severe beating and imprisonment.
All these knew the song of the dark night.
I ponder those night singers. One sings before the break of day, then others join in. Does the first song encourage another song, and another and another, until the air is filled with praise and worship for the God who made both the day and the night?
I want to be a night singer, one who can make melody through tears, one who can see God when it is too black to see anything else.
The night singers encourage me to sing. To sing when the night lasts too long. To sing though the dawn is not in sight. To sing because weeping may last for the night, but joy come in the morning.