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A morning offering

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Psalm 30 tells us a great deal about morning: "At dusk weeping comes for the night; but at dawn there is rejoicing."

Everybody loves a baby, and in truth, every morning is like a little birth. Granted, to the insomniac, the first light of dawn may not seem like a burden lifted, and sometimes those first few waking moments bring a flood of worries left over from yesterday.

But usually, morning brings a surge of expectation, a sense that it is good to be alive and that the Lord has given us a chance to begin again. That's how morning should feel, whether you awaken to the pitter-patter of little pajama-clad feet or the smell of hot coffee or the splatter of rain pelting your bedroom window with dying leaves.

I'm developing the habit of saying a morning offering immediately when I awake. I suppose, once upon a time, it was a childhood habit that I let slip away. When my own children were in grade school, we would recite a simple offering on the drive to their little Catholic school.

"O loving God, I give you this day, all that I think and do and say. I give you my love, with Jesus your son. I will try to be kind and love everyone."

We lived in Anchorage, Alaska, and as we left our neighborhood, the eastern sky was alive with the first hint of dawn over the Chugach Mountains. Since it was Alaska, even in September, morning darkness was lingering and snow was already creeping down from the peaks, or even covering the roads.

Give the Lord the day, and try to be kind. Even now, that seems like a good prayer.

The poet Mary Oliver said, "It is a serious thing just to be alive on this fresh morning in this broken world."

To me, that's a prayer as well, one that covers many bases in just a few words. The word "serious," for instance. She could have said "delightful," but she used a deeper, more challenging word.

We have been granted a great gift to wake this one morning, and that carries with it responsibility. And the uplift of that "fresh morning": newborn, alive. But then the reminder: "this broken world." That reality begs the question, What are we called to do, today, about this brokenness?

The first line of Vinita Hampton Wright's "Love as if ... "  is a great reminder: "Love as if loving is the first thing on your to-do list."

What if we, literally, put that on our to-do list as the first thing. A warm embrace for a spouse as we leave for work? A phone call to a friend who may need cheering up? A flower to an ailing neighbor?

Love, Hampton Wright continues, "as if you have no other plan but to love."

I had a Jesuit friend who told me that each morning, he would ask God, "Surprise me today, Lord." As a sometime-control freak, I recoil from that prayer.

But really, I know I'm not in charge of surprises and every day is going to bring them my way. The question is, Am I ready to accept God's will in each new day and ready to greet each surprise with love?

There are many morning offerings to be found online and in prayer books. Or devise your own. But make it a habit, before you throw off the bed clothes and hit the floor for another day in this broken world: Give the Lord the day and ask God to help you love.

Caldarola writes from Omaha, Neb.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021