“Hey, hon. You awake?” I whisper into the darkness, standing by the edge of the bed. I hear a groggy “yeah” from my husband buried beneath sheets, blankets, and comforter.
“Great! Come with me,” I say as I turn and trot out of the bedroom. I hear his slightly incredulous voice following me down the hall, “Are we going outside?!?” You’d better believe it, baby!
It is 2:30 a.m. and Aaron and I are at a cabin nestled in the middle of a pine forest overlooking a lake. It is October and the night is chilly. I won’t let Aaron turn on lights, so we stumble around by the light of an iPhone, looking for shoes. Found them! We crack open the door and step out into darkness. Music drifts through the night air from miles away. Aaron makes a comment about people partying at 2:30 a.m., and I secretly smile and think about how sometime during the past 10 years of marriage we have transitioned from college kids to middle age. We gingerly navigate the 43 steps down to the lake, emerge from the pine forest onto the dock. We look up.
Stars. Billions of them. Orion. Seven Sisters. The Big Dipper. Venus twinkles brightly at us. The Milky Way glitters. We draw in a breath and stare upwards. A loon calls. An owl hoots. A star shoots. There are no man-made lights to compete with the splendor arrayed above us. “Wow,” I think. It is the understatement of the century.
I wonder to myself – all of this beauty? And I sleep through it every night? We all sleep through it? Who is this beauty for? And then I remember: “The Heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1). This magnificence is but a tiny breathtaking glimpse of the glory of God – I cannot wrap my brain around that thought – the idea that there is something infinitely more glorious than what I am seeing.
As the cold air seeps through our jackets and starts to chill our bones, Aaron and I stumble back up the steps and into the cabin. My back is sore and the bed is hard, so I curl onto the couch for the rest of the night. I intend to sleep in. This is our tenth anniversary celebration, after all, and I have two kids who don’t believe in sleeping in, so this is my chance. It is fine to gallivant through the pine woods in the middle of the night when you know you can slumber past 6 a.m.
My eyes pop open as the sun is just starting to think about peeking over the horizon. I sneak a peek at the clock: 5:45 a.m. Through the sliding glass doors, an orange glow promises the sun is on its way and its reflection on the lake beckons me. It is an invitation to step back outside and watch the morning unfurl. And, despite my intent to sleep in, I accept the invitation. I grab my favorite blanket and a light jacket, stepping onto the deck and settling into a chair. I listen to loons. I discover that twenty turkeys decided to roost in the trees, about thirty feet from my spot on the deck. They awaken and start shifting around on their branches. I smile. My turkey-hunting relatives would just die if they knew I was sitting in a comfy chair, wrapped in a blankie and so close to twenty turkeys that I could probably hit them with a pine cone. And, deep within, I feel a stirring to WAKE UP and SEE instead of stumbling and sleepwalking through the weeks, through the obligations, and through life itself.