My body is jolted into wakefulness at 4 am, around the time my bladder signals that it’s time to pee and get ready for work—my natural alarm clock. These morning wee hours are the most precious—the time I use to write on my journal, pray, read the Bible, meditate, and read some more. Tim Challies wrote in his book on productivity that one must work on the most important things first. A favorite song from Sunday School had lines that went, “Read your Bible; pray every day.” This morning habit I largely derived from Tatay, who woke up before everyone else did and head over to my room, turn the lights on, read his Bible aloud, and some passages from a book by AW Tozer, his favorite. This used to irritate me, but now that he has passed on, I miss it—it was as if he was reading for me passages about the sovereignty of God.
If I have extra time, before I catch my 6 am train, I read the news, go to The Old Reader to check if the blogs I follow have posted new things, eat a quick breakfast, brew a nice cup of Sultan Kudarat coffee (still the best, a soothing reminder of home), and say goodbye to my brother, Ralph, who usually leaves later. I try to stay away from social media unless there’s an important announcement to watch out for—like cancellation of work. As if, of course, it matters. I also check my phone to see if I have new in-patient referrals to see, to read messages from patients who email me their lab results from time to time, and do my best to reply to them during the train ride. Sometimes I just ignore the phone and come to terms with its existence as soon as the train arrives as Pedro Gil Station at 7 am, or thereabouts—there’s too much uncertainty because you know how trains in Manila are: as unpredictable, and occasionally as disastrous, as the weather.