He awoke for no reason. One moment he was asleep but now he was awake and alert. Had something jolted him from his slumber, an unexpected cat screeching outside, a fox knocking over a metal bin or a stranger breaking into the house?
He waited in the semi darkness of the room, his wife, still gently breathing, beside him. The anticipation of further movement nearby was palpable as he strained his ear for any slight sound…
It was no use. He jumped from the bed and quickly manoeuvred the obstacles dotted around the room. He grabbed a dressing gown from the back of the door, not entirely sure whether it was his own or his wife’s bright pink one but now was not the time for fashion choices. He opened the door trying not to wake his wife unnecessarily and stepped out into the hall way.
Only now did he notice that his breathing was very shallow and his heart was beating so loudly that he was surprised the whole house wasn’t shaking with the reverberations. He reached the top of the stairs and peered over still keenly listening for noise.
He called out, “Is anybody there?”
Immediately he thought how stupid such a question was. As if a burglar would come to the bottom of the stairs and openly announce “Yes. It’s only me. You don’t mind if I take your TV, do you?” He stood for a moment reflecting on this before descending the stairs.
It was at this point he realised he had no weapon with which to hit any potential intruder. Maybe all the burglar will need is the shock of being caught. He continued to descend the stairs with worse case scenarios playing out in his mind.
After inspecting all the rooms he decided that there was no unwanted visitors and whatever interrupted his sleep had not repeated and so he returned to his bedroom.
Now, of course, he was wide awake with adrenaline pumping round his system. As he entered the bedroom he looked over and saw the glowing numbers of his alarm clock.
Did such a time exist? He tried to remember the last time he was awake at this time and how in an hour and half he was meant to be leaving the house. He sat down on the edge of the bed to decide what he should do: return to bed in the hope of falling asleep or do something productive with this gift of an extra hour awake.
As he contemplated, he looked out of the window and saw the sky, still dark with night but on the horizon over some houses at the end of this garden he saw a sliver of light. Or was it? He wasn’t sure if it was a trick, an optical illusion. He peered out. His eyes now straining towards the horizon. He was willing the sun to rise.
It was always talked about; getting up early to watch the sunrise. The romance of this beautiful event. He thought for a moment of waking his wife to share in this but thought better of it. Anticipation of danger had now been replaced with the expectancy of seeing the first light, the dawn of a new day. The fear of darkness now a hope of light. His breathing, still shallow but now with the excitement of experiencing so infrequent an occasion.
It was the same sensation. He felt so present, alert, expectant, aware, muscles taut and the mind sharp. Every movement, sound, shift in the environment carefully noted and assessed. This was a physical as well as a mental experience. Time suddenly became real like when you start to count seconds by. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven…
He must have stood at the window for forty five minutes. His mind jumping through topics. On several occasions he jolted from these wanderings to refocus on watching for the morning dawn, the first light.
“A watched pot never boils.” he kept reminding himself. But yet he waited, expectantly, for the sliver of light to grow into a wedge…
Oh to think of the times he had missed this. He questioned, many times, whether what he was looking at was the sunrise or just light pollution. He thought of giving up and returning to bed but he desperately wanted to see it…
And still he waited. Expectant. Ready…
My soul waits for the Lord. More than those who watch for the morning. More than those who watch for the morning.