Small Watches of the Morning – Commentary by Sally Jo Gilbert de Vargas

“Pray in the small watches of the morning.”(Qur’an 17:79)

“No one knows what makes the soul wake up so happy; maybe a dawn breeze has blown the veil from the Face of God.” (Rumi)

There is a mysterious power in the early hours of the morning, just before the sun rises, when the entire world seems to be at rest and silent.  This is when God is said to be waiting patiently to hear from his supplicants, but so few seem to be speaking to Him at that time.  If you have ever suddenly awakened in the early morning hours, and have not been able to go back to sleep, you may have experienced this mysterious Presence.  Perhaps there is something on your mind that you didn’t even realize you were thinking about.  Perhaps a fragment of a dream is in your memory, or a sense that you have visited some foreign place.  This is the time to slip out of bed and make your prayer to Allah.  Allah will hear what is in your heart, even if you are not exactly certain what it is you need or want to say.  Pour your worries out on the prayer rug.  Cry your tears of loneliness and despair.  Sing with joy and gratitude from your heart.  Sit in silence and wait for a sign.  Your Sustainer and Cherisher sees and hears it all, and will bring you closer to the Divine Presence.

Sometimes it is so difficult not to go back to sleep!  We are so accustomed to being asleep.  The work of waking up, staying awake, and becoming aware, is strange and uncomfortable at first.  Yet it only takes a gentle breath of wind to blow away that veil – if only for an instant – for something profound and unspeakable to occur within our heart.  It’s worth waiting for.  It’s worth longing for.  It’s worth waking up for. 

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