For my first six years of teaching, my schedule on a school day started by snoozing my alarm until 6:30 AM, which put me frantically trying (and repeatedly failing) to get to school by 7:15 AM. To say that I was not a morning person is a GROSS understatement. In my pre-teaching life, I was a cubicle nerd and was able to hide out alone until the time/caffeine balance had been restored (usually around 9:30 AM), but teaching is an alternate universe where I am expected to be “on” by 7:25 AM. For an introverted non-morning person, this has always been a challenge.
When I decided to go back to Mass, I didn’t start by making a commitment to go to Mass on Sundays, which would have been a completely logical and normal place to start. Instead, my first Mass back was at the ridiculous hour of 6:00 AM on a random Wednesday morning, freaking out my dad (who went home and told my mom, “You will never believe who was at Mass this morning.”). I quickly fell into a habit of going to Mass twice a week in the mornings – I wanted to go more, but my parish doesn’t have Mass until 8:00 on the other days, so it didn’t work out. This went on for several weeks and I was finding that I actually felt better and was in a better mood on the days that I got up early and went to Mass, in spite of getting up an hour and a half earlier. It didn’t take me long to figure out that there were other parishes that had 6:00 AM Mass, and soon I was going to Mass every day and feeling better than I had ever felt – it really transformed my life. (But I refuse to accept that I might have become a morning person.)
I use a variety of prayer books in class, but this year I have a new one called Psalms 2000 – it has a short inspirational story and then part of a psalm (working numerically through them). The kids have really enjoyed it – I even tried to switch to a different one a few weeks ago and I had multiple kids in multiple periods ask, “What happened to the book with the stories in it?” In October, I got to Psalm 42 (below) and realized that this is EXACTLY what I had been going through for the previous two months. I love this story so much, and the words just really expressed so well what was happening in my life – I was experiencing a thirst for God.