In the morning, when I rise

Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will.
(Isaiah 50:4b)

I love cottonwood trees...the graceful drape of them, their enormous trunks mocking the slender maples, birches and oaks that normally inhabit these Wisconsin woods.  My husband has heard me laud the cottonwood and pine that grow poetically out my kitchen window, especially in the harsh white light of winter, the cottonwood's branches bare and her sister pine still thick with green.  So, as a love gift one spring, he planted a stand of cottonwoods on the little hill outside my kitchen.  A few survived, and they are growing taller every year - the tallest now almost shoulder high on me, the tiniest still just up to my knee.

One morning, as the dawn's pink tinge was burning out of the sky in the wake of the yellow light as the sun rose above the trees to our southeast, these little cottonwoods stood like an allegory outside as I fixed the morning coffee.  Nine months ago, Aaron and I attended a marriage conference that rocked our world.  The changes we instituted after that conference were sweeping and have propelled us to a level of intimacy we didn't even imagine possible at the beginning of 2010.  The changes were (and may I humbly recommend them if you do not already practice these?):

  • Go to bed together.  Every night.  No matter what.
  • Once you are in bed, never, ever, ever say no to your spouse. (and that includes sandbagging any ideas your spouse *might* have with sabotaging statements about how tired you are, how busy your day was, etc.  In fact, for a while I didn't open my mouth to say anything except how handsome my husband was, how attractive I found him, what a great husband he was, etc.  Encouragement only!)
  • Get up at the same time.  Every morning.  No matter what.  (this is the hardest one for me)
  • Have devotions/quiet time/Bible & prayer (whatever you call it).  Together.  Period.
  • Pray for each other.  Every single morning.
  • When you see each other for the first time at the end of the workday, repeat the steps from bullet #2 above.  No complaining.  Ever.  Encouragement only!
Sounds simple, right?  Well, it has been!  For the most part.  The getting up together thing is difficult.  Especially with a 10 out of 10 headache in the mornings.  (But remember, I'm not allowed to mention headaches anymore, wink, wink!!)

So in the first rays of sun that morning, the cottonwoods whispered reproach to me over the many mornings I've let this morning thing slide.  Their green leaves waving at the top of the tree to meet the sun.  The leaves that get the first rays of the morning and the last rays of the evening are still beautiful.  The leaves at the bottom, the leaves that wait longer to bathe themselves in the sunlight, the leaves that miss out on the evening glory...those leaves are already parchment, yellowed, spent, pock-marked with brown, the finger-paint of death.

Okay, little cottonwood.  I hear your fable.  I pray for strength to follow through.  Because I long for those green leaves adorning the tree of marriage we've planted between us, this cord of three strands...Aaron, God and I.  Beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. (Jude 1:20-21)