It’s snowing here in Chicago. I woke up this morning at 3:44 a.m. to the sound of a neighbor shoveling the sidewalk right beneath my window. Good morning! So I’ve been up ever since, praying, puttering around the house, doing some editing, and drinking strong coffee.

This is my favorite time of the day, though often I miss it because I am still sleeping. I love the pre-dawn day when the sun has not yet peeked over the horizon and the city feels asleep under the cover of night. My prayer as well as my thinking always seem so much sharper at this time. I feel like God is ever so close to me — I know God is always close to me, but this time of day seems to heighten it for me. How many psychologists and spiritualists talk about the “liminal edges”(liminal meaning being on the threshold)?

Dawn is like a threshold where the night is no longer here and the day not quite yet. They are both present and not present at the same time. Do you remember all those movies and fairy tales where the person (or thing) lives the day in one form (a werewolf, an ogre, a pumpkin or other creature — I watched the film Ladyhawke a million times when I was younger!) and at dusk transforms into another form? Then at dawn, the transformation is reversed? In our collective human psyche I think we know that these are special times of the day. Monks and nuns have honored these hours for hundreds of years by praying the Liturgy of the Hours. I honor this time with prayer and coffee (coffee being a libation of sorts, I suppose).

Though I was a bit perturbed by waking up to a snow shovel scraping the sidewalk, upon further reflection, I’m glad for it because it reminds me to get up a little earlier next time so I can enjoy this sacred time instead of rushing into my day.

Thanks, Neighbor Guy, for waking me up — in more ways than one!