Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Patron Saint of Night Owls?

Someday I shall be a great saint - like those you see in the windows of magnificent cathedrals. I will have a soul made of sunlight and skin as clear as the stained glass panels that make their skin, and I will shine like they do now - I will shine with the glory that comes over those who rise up early and seek the Lord....

But I do not shine so now - especially not in the morning. In fact, I grimace until noon, I would never be mistaken for a stained glass saint, though at 7 AM I might be grey and grotesque as a gargoyle. By faith I accept that "God's commands are not burdensome," but right now, I am not grown in that measure of grace that frees me to exalt in this particular command to seek Him "early in the morning."

~ ~from "Washing At Dark" by Rich Mullins

I've been a night owl since childhood. I don't know if being born at 5:00 in the afternoon via Caesarean section has any relation to that sort of rhythm. Maybe it was a natural trait enhanced by being raised in the five-storey concrete and brick canyons of the South Bronx. There, very little light snuck into our first or second floor apartments. This in contrast to the fresh-air-and-bright-tropical-sun upbringing of my family in Cuba's eastern province. There's no getting away from the morning there.

I know that if left to my body's devices, I'd sleep until 3 or 4 or 5pm, and be ready to hit the sack at 8 am, missing most of the vitamin-D producing daylight.

This is not a glamorous thing, like Kate Beckinsale in her cool, black leather get-up enjoying the dark or Angel stalkiing broodingly and muscularly through the LA nights.

Try making doctor appointments and getting bank stuff done and having to go to a family brunch when you're sleeping until evening. I function on sleep deprivation on occasion, just to do what needs to be done. That messes me up for weeks.

I'm a freak.

Both of my parents were and all of my siblings are early birds. Even on weekends, my parents used to get up at the crack of dawn, clanging pots in the kitchen, making cafe con leche and fried eggs or corn meal mush. Even on weekends, my siblings get up at an hour the Puritans would have approved on, to tidy up or to go fishing or to head out for a walk or to shop.

Me. For as long as I can recall, waking up for school or mass or church or an appointment in the early morning has been torture. I remember how I'd perk up later in the day. I remember begging mom to let me stay up, while dawn was as pleasant to me as to a vampire. There I was, am, scrunched of face and heavy of eye, "gray and grotesque as a gargoyle."

I've battled it all my life. I've prayed God to make me a sun-up kind of gal. No luck.

My husband sees my efforts and says, "Just give it up, honey. You're not gonna win this battle."

I persevere. I want to be a daywalker.

Don't snicker. I'm soaked with gooey envy of all of who greet the sun with cheer and energy and naturalness. I think God made us to be morning folks. The world runs for morning folks. St. Vitus is your patron saint, you dawn babies. Patron saint of early risers, that one.

Although, really, all the renowned saints could easily fit the bill. Even Jesus himself would be up early, seeking the Father for some Dad-Son chit-chat. Certainly the fishermen apostles would be up very, very early.

Is there a patron saint for night owls? For late risers? For day sleepers?

Perhaps St. John of the Cross with his kindled soul and night wanderings and contemplations? I mean, this certainly has been my emotion over the decades of seeking Christ's company:

O night more lovely than the dawn!
O night that has united
the Lover with his beloved,
transforming the beloved in her Lover.

And just that bit, that familiar bit, reminds me of so many wonderful late nights I've spent with God the way others spend early mornings with Him. The pleasures of stargazing far into the wee hours--Jupiter's moons, Saturn's rings, nebulae, clusters, meteor showers, eclipses. I've sung to the moon in all her phases. I've created poems inspired by the way gardenias glow in the faint light of the night. Things you just can't see in the daylight.

And in the city, it's quieter. Three in the morning--oooh, you can hear yourself think. You can feel God listening to you pray in your darkened part of the planet.

So, all right, I'm a freak, but it's not all bad.

Still, if there is a patron saint of night owls, let me know.

Have candles, will light.


Mike Duran said...

I've been wondering who's leaving comments on my blog at 2 AM.

Mirtika said...

HAHAHAH. As long as they were NICE comments, then it was I.