Through the mesh the sky is gold. I see the pink, pre-dawn glow illuminating pastel smudges of early morning mist. I am reluctant to leave the cozy comfort of my sleeping bag but I know that these moments are too precious to sleep through. Wriggling free of my sleeping bag, I wedge myself into the small space above Sean’s head and then through the zippered door of our tent, doing my best not to disturb him. Free of the tent I stretch, take a deep breath of the fresh morning air and wander down to the beach. The mist, the first rays of sunlight, that island with its perfect arrangement of rocks and trees: a visual symphony.

The air is still and quiet. The lake is glass. I contemplate the water with my sleepy eyes. I try to make a habit of morning dips. The shock of the cold water on my cozy, just-rolled-out-of-bed skin does a better job of waking me up than any coffee ever could. Ten gasping, gulping, hurried strokes – five out and five in – that’s the deal. If I’m still cold at that point then I can get out, heart pumping, alive, refreshed, ready for anything. But more often than not those ten reaches and pulls through the water are all it takes. The gasping stops, my body adjusts, and the weightless freedom of the water fills me with joy. Its silky texture breathes across my skin and I dive and dance through its depths.

I’ve been sitting here for a while now. The sun has risen through the mist and I’ve savored every moment of it. Soon the tasks of the day will start speeding along: breakfast, packing up, moving on. Still I haven’t drummed up the courage to actually get in the water. I know that I’ll love it once I do. I know that I’ve never regretted a single morning dip. I always enjoy it, always feel better after, always enjoy my day more if I’ve had one, but somehow the knowing doesn’t make the doing any easier.

Maybe it’s not a morning dip for you, but what are the things that bring you life and joy? The things that reliably leave you feeling better, more alive, rejuvenated? Do you make space for them? Why does it seem to take so much effort to fit these things into our lives?

…………..

Back at home I roll out of bed. Cold November taps at my feet as I shuffle to the kitchen. Coffee will replace morning dip today. Machines rumble and the dark comfort pours into my mug. I curl up in my favourite chair, glance down and there it is staring back at me. Another of those life-giving, refreshing, soul cleansing activities that seem to take so much courage and self-control to dive into. Every time I do I am rewarded and yet, somehow, the knowing doesn’t make the doing any easier. I pick up my Bible, read a few verses, and then switch to my journal:

Good morning God. What do you want to tell me today?

There’s always something. And it’s always worth it.