Confessions of a reformed night owl

Three in the morning and on deadline. I stared at the computer screen, fingers poised over the keyboard, relishing the quietude of the house.

I don’t make a regular practice of staying up until the wee hours to finish an article on time, but I’ve lived most of my life as a night owl, feeling punished if I turned in before 11 p.m. or midnight.

And then came the pandemic.

It’s safe to say each of us has had to accept — at times unwillingly — significant changes to the way we live and work. Jobs disappeared. Businesses we supported closed, sometimes forever. For a long time, church services were entirely online and months later are still somewhat muted.

Ask the matriarch of a family of fitness freaks how it felt when gyms were shut down, briefly reopened and then closed again.

One son has compensated by doing endless burpees (think of a pushup followed by a jump-squat). At 27, that works for him. For his parents — not so much.

At first, we decided to carry our exercise to the outdoors. That’s ideal for March, April and even May in Phoenix, but as the mercury climbed, we realized an after-dinner urban hike in 110-degree weather wasn’t much fun.

“Maybe I’ll start getting up at 5 a.m.,” I said to my husband, Mr. I’m-Up-At-4:30-Every-Day. Sure. That’ll happen.

But I set my alarm and we ventured forth at 5:05 a.m. the next morning in a brisk 91-degrees. That lasted about a week. Then I persuaded two of our sons to help us get rid of the falling-apart living room furniture and drag the semi-abandoned treadmill off the patio and into our once elegant front room.

Hello Coronel Family Gym, where you don’t need a mask and the clean towel supply is only limited by the number of laundry loads we’re currently behind on. After a month of this, I’m truly reformed from my night-owlish ways.

I still get up at 5 a.m. but get a two-hour workout in before heading to the office each day. There’s even time for daily Mass and Rosary. Had anyone asked me a couple of months ago if I might consider becoming one of those early-morning types, I would have snorted a laugh. Impossible.

I’ve never cared much for change (just ask my family: I’ve eaten the exact same breakfast every day for 20 years.) I like things to be just the way they are, thank you very much.

The truth is, change can be good for us, especially when it’s something God has decided He wants us to do. Look at Jonah, for example. God wanted him to go to Nineveh, to warn the people there and tell them to repent from their evil ways.

Jonah was pretty sure that was the last thing he wanted to do. He tried to run from God (never a good idea) but ultimately obeyed.

I can’t help but think that I’m like Jonah many times, set on my own game plan. I’ve been dragged kicking and screaming a few times to do what God had in store for me only to discover that the change I feared turned out to be a wondrous blessing, an incarnation of God’s love and protection.

St. Paul tells us, “In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I have the strength for everything through Him who empowers me (Phil. 4:12-13).”

Christ’s death and resurrection have given us new life and equipped us to meet every challenge that comes our way. Relying on His grace, firmly rooted in His love, inspired by His Word and strengthened by the sacraments, we can face these uncertain times with bold courage.

Change? Yeah, He’s got that. And so do we.

Change may not be what we wanted, but it might be what we need in order to more fully surrender to Him, trusting that “all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28).”