rituals: there is a dawn in me (aleah marsden).

It’s Guest Post Flashmobs-Tuesday Week …are you excited or WHAT?! I am delighted to have Aleah here with us today, who is just as authentic in-person as you’ll read in her post today. She’s a writer and a friend, a mama and a cheerleader to others, and a cohort of mine through the Redbud Writers Guild. I have a feeling you’ll more-than-enjoy her words today. Savor them, indeed!


4:10 am: My alarm pings on my phone and a sleepy smile spreads across my face. Technically, it’s Saturday morning, though the sun won’t rise for another hour or so. I dress quickly and quietly, careful not to wake the other still sleepers; husband in a twirl of sheets taking up three quarters of our bed, nor the four passed-out littles across the hall.

I grab my bag, intentionally packed the evening prior, with my laptop, charging cords, blue ballpoint pen, journal, Bible, sticky notes, books, highlighter, wallet, and indispensible ear-buds.

I step out into the star-smattered dark filled with awe as I breathe deeply, a small thrill of aloneness. I sing along to whatever song woke up with me in my heart.

In the winter the heater in our nineties, manual Honda Civic kicks in when I get to the first stoplight. I’ve trained myself to always pull into the first left turn lane; the second lane’s sensor is broken and I have wasted too many precious minutes waiting at a deserted intersection for the lights to cycle to left arrow green.

Starbucks never looks prettier than 4:30am; empty and alluring, a shiny newness aglow with hope, alight with possibility. A yawn escapes as I grab the bundle of newspapers off the curb and my eyes adjust to the warm light within. I set the papers on the end of the counter where a barista is pulling pastries from boxes to fill the refrigerated case.

“Spinach feta wrap?”

“Yes, please. And a tall Pike.”


For all my hopes, dreams, and longings to fulfill in the next five hours?

“A little, thanks.”

My table is in the back corner with an unobstructed view of the coffee shop, next to a coveted power outlet on the wall. Once, a new barista was sitting there when I came in. She thought she was opening, only to arrive and find out her shift didn’t start until 5am.

I sat a table away from her and anxiously sipped my coffee for half an hour until she moved.

I’m not sure which variable of my Saturday morning “office hours” is the most important part of the equation. Is it the alarm? The way I leave my clothes folded on the corner of the dresser? The first left turn lane? Two Splendas and splash of half and half? The savory first bite of feta and egg white? Opening my soft leather Bible and pulling out the brown satin ribbon marking my place?

In the words of Michael Scott, “I’m not superstitious, but I am a little ‘stitious.” I have experienced the magic of flow—that near-mythical experience of being in-synch with your work—too often in just this space, in just this way, to risk messing with the details.

Whether or not my writing is any good that morning has become secondary. The value is found in showing up. In all the rest of my life spent wrestling words and wrangling four kids, rarely do two days look alike. I am undisciplined and frazzled and taking it a day at a time all the time, but every week Saturday morning comes for me with open arms and a hot paper cup of freshly brewed house roast.

This has become my one almost defiant act of consistency. I smile as I sip and ponder Thoreau’s perfect words in Walden: “Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me.”

new profile picAleah Marsden is a writer, editor, and Social Media and Communications Manager for Redbud Writers Guild. She blogs at DepthoftheRiches.com about life, faith, and Bible study. Her work has been featured in Books & Culture and The Banner. Connect with her on Twitter: @aleahmarsden. It’s Cara again: and did you not just LOVE Aleah’s words, the picture she painted, the view into her Saturday morning ritual? Thank you for sharing, friend. Show her some love!

19 thoughts on “rituals: there is a dawn in me (aleah marsden).

  1. I’m with Lindsey…early!! You described it so vividly that I pictured you doing exactly as you said, the world still dark around you. I felt comfort in your ritual and anticipation. Grateful for your example of intention! Somehow the rituals prepare us to both meet God and to create.

    1. Lindsay & Suzanne: Yes it is early! And I never would have considered myself an early bird, but it’s also a time that my writing doesn’t take away too much from our family time. Rarely are we busy between the hours of 4:30a and 10am on a Saturday. So it helps me eliminate some excuses. Suzanne, yes! I love Cara’s rituals series because it has made me think through how it’s not just about the end result, but HOW we get there matters.

  2. I am working on rising at 5 each morning to have time with God and to write a few minutes before the house awakens. So maybe I can do 4:30 on some Saturdays. Do you mind if I borrow your ritual? Love this, thank you. I needed this push and reminder to make space for God and for what He wants to say through us!

  3. A “defiant act of consistency” – yes, not everything has to be novel to be worth attending to. Thanks for giving us all permission to revel in some consistency, Aleah. It reminds me that God is the same yesterday, today and forever, and that’s a constancy I am glad to revel in eternally.


    P.S. Hey, you and I both wrote on getting up rather early for Cara’s rituals guest post series!

    1. Not that I’m replying to Tim’s comment when it’s just supposed to be Aleah, but does this mean y’all are trying to tell me something? NOOOOOOOOOO.

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician. carameredith.com


      1. Or write late instead? I dunno, Cara, I definitely was not doing this before all my kids were consistently sleeping through the night. In some of my favorite words from Dallas Willard, “Do what you can, not what you can’t.” 🙂

        1. I think it’s all about finding the right time that works for all of us. Right now my “right time” involves sitting in Whole Foods at 2:48 in the afternoon with a sitter at home. I’m definitely a night owl but also find that I can’t write past 9 pm because the creativity process wires my mind too much. So, to each his or her own. 🙂

          Cara Meredith

          writer, speaker, musician. carameredith.com


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