I was born at 4 in the morning, locking eyes with my mother for the first time after hours of labor on both our parts, promising unspoken love and commitment, come what may.
As a young adult freed from the constraints of a curfew, 4 in the morning was when the birds started their first rustlings and tentative peeps. This was the hour that I knew it was time to get to bed with the certain knowledge that I would be able to sleep well. It was the hour that released me from the ceaseless energy and questing for I knew not what of youth.
It was 4 in the morning when I woke up resenting a tree frog's song, heavily pregnant with what would be my only daughter. Thirty minutes later I was sure enough that it was the twinges of labor and not the song of the frog that had roused me. It was the last hour that I would hold her privately within myself, the only one aware of her movements and musings.
Throughout my life it has always been 4 in the morning that I would wake up and be unable to go back to sleep. I resented and cursed the hour for many years. I trained myself never to look at the clock, foolish enough to think I could fool my soul into drifting back to sleep. What folly! As if a clock could ever possibly influence a soul!
It has always been futile.
I have reached the age where I no longer resent it.
4 in the morning is an hour well known to farmers and bakers alike. It is the hour that holds the last of full darkness in the summer time. It is the hour where, if you get up, you can have several hours of peace and quiet and time for contemplation. It is the hour where you can pray without distraction, see your path clearly without justification or condemnation. It is the hour where you can hold yourself accountable and forgive yourself the selfishness that seems to rule us all. It is the hour you can take responsibility for your sins and believe that you can do better in the coming day. You can watch the stars wheeling around in their predictable, eternal path, faithfully secure that the world will continue to turn despite our human meddling.
At 4 in the morning there is no one to see you. You are able to see both past and future without judgement, just as facts. The past seems farther away and the future stretches ahead of you absent of fear. Anything at all is possible at 4 in the morning.
I have ruminated on this hour and why I have been haunted by it all my life. It seems to me only fitting and proper that this will be the hour of my death. It is an hour in which a person can slip away to glory, knowing their loved ones will have a few more precious hours of obliviousness before their world's will be changed forever.
In summer it is the last hour of cool quiet. In winter it is the hour of absolute dead of night.
It has become my favorite hour, an old friend who never fails to show up on time. It keeps me and comforts me now. I have grown accustomed to it's faithfulness, and now appreciate the time to prepare myself for whatever a day will bring.
Hope can grow at 4 in the morning, before the glaring sun reveals all the imperfections in ourselves and this world.