|Early morning in Central Florida - Photo taken 2/10/2007|
There will be no morning walk today because I can hear the rain as I make my way to the front door. My first task every morning is to retrieve the newspaper. It's then I realize that for many others 5 a.m. is far from early. The man who delivers our daily newspaper has already been up for hours and can be relied on to toss my copy of The Villages Daily Sun accurately onto the center of our driveway by 4:30 every morning. I have never met this man, although I have caught a fleeting glimpse of him on a few occasions as he speeds down our street in the early morning darkness. And yet I hold him in the highest esteem. His reliability, his punctuality, his accuracy, the care with which he double bags the paper on rainy mornings -- all these virtues contribute to the daily restoration of my faith that, when challenged, people will do what is right. I must remember to pray for him.
For at least the last 35 years my daily newspapers have all been delivered by adults. Do paperboys still deliver papers, or is that now considered a form of child abuse? When I was a boy, I had a paper route and delivered The Daily Times, the now-defunct afternoon paper that once served Mamaroneck and Larchmont, New York. I had "inherited" the route from my older brother, Jeff, who had moved on to more lucrative jobs once he turned 16. It was the easiest, and therefore the best, paper route in town. As I recall, I had about 70 customers, all located in a one- or two-block area of downtown Larchmont. I delivered papers to about a dozen shops and offices and to three or four single-family homes. The remaining customers were residents of one large apartment house. I could easily deliver all 70 papers in a half-hour and most of that time was spent indoors far away from the cold and rain and snow and slush. For this I was unfairly paid the same as another paperboy with 70 customers all in single-family homes. But like the workers in the Gospel parable [Mt 20:1-16], I suppose we had all agreed to the terms in advance.
There are, of course, others who rise early to make our lives more pleasant. Before retiring to Florida, we had spent the previous 25 years on Cape Cod. There we had no town pick-up of trash and garbage and had to make frequent trips to the town dump a few miles away. But here, a large garbage truck moves noisily down our street every Tuesday and Friday morning. Two young men jump on and off collecting our bags of refuse and tossing them into the truck's gaping maw. It looks to be dirty, dangerous, and exhausting work. I often encounter them on my early morning walks, and so I wave and wish them a cheerful "Good morning!" They always respond in kind. How seldom do we show our appreciation for the work done by such as these? I must add them to my prayers as well.
It's good for us to remember and thank God for these people, those who work the difficult jobs with odd hours, all designed to make our lives better. As I consider them and how they spend their early morning hours, it makes my complaint about 5 a.m. wake-ups seem trivial indeed.
Yes, being is certainly good.
Now to Morning Prayer.