“The word enthusiasm is derived from the roots en – in or within – and theos – God. It means having God within … People with this gift carry a special energy. They bring warmth and feeling to their relationships and vigor and freshness to their activities.” (From: “Spirituality and Practice: Resources for Spiritual Journeys”).

Awake or not, they stay in their rooms until the owl turns green. The owl: a type of child’s clock. At night, after a splashy bath, a wiggly story time and rowdy snuggles, my grandkids check that their toy owl’s night-light shines orange. Its plastic face turns green at the hour Mom and Dad set: 7 a.m.

When I visit in Massachusetts, if I wake up in my basement guest room before 7:00, I close my eyes and meditate, or stealth-write in my journal, or check e-mails on my tiny phone. But I do not get up. Ever.

I wait for the pitter-patter of toddler’s feet, the twins’ loud-barefoot, Lawson’s muted by her pj’s footies. First I hear them two stories up trampling on the soft carpeted hall. I hear their sparkly energy, vigor, the joi de vivre with which we are gifted at birth. The five-year old boys and their three-year-old sister have not yet lost this giddy freshness.

Then I hear them humming and bumping down the runner on the stairway, leaping onto the first floor with its hard wood, nothing to muffle their steps, thundering, rumbling, roaring. They squeal their quietest whispers. “Shhhh, Susu’s sleeping. Let’s surprise her.” I chuckle and wonder: Can I catch this child-like en-theos?

Next in the tiled basement hallway, their giggly echoes reverberate with every footfall, with every “Shhh.” Clip-clop, clip-clop.

Then Walker, Taylor and Lawson blast into my bedroom. They smell like last night’s Burt’s Bees Baby Shampoo and Kids’ ACT Bubble Gum Fluoride Rinse. They shine with ecstatic smiles at their “Let’s- get-Susu” trick. Their delight radiates and whisks away any doldrums. They chorus, “HI SUSU! THE OWL TURNED GREEN! TIME TO WAKE UP!”

With wide-eyed pretend amazement and a hint of faked disbelief, I stir and murmur, “Mmmmm, you woke me up.” We all hug in the astonishment of those first en-theosmoments.

The morning rituals begin. I mumble, “I have a great book here. How ’bout you all hop into my bed and we read together?”

They coax, “Susu, get up!”

I stroll to the bathroom, scrape my tongue with my yellow plastic Ayurvedic tool trying to entice them, to slow them down, “Anyone want a turn?”

Taylor does. He scrapes and spits, swishes and swallows. Walker and Lawson beg, “No. Come on!!”

I remind them, “No thank you?”

At 7:05, they repeat, “No, thank you. Can we vroom our trucks or paint now?”

Squeezing my hand, they drag me into the playroom. Possessed by cheer, they negotiate. Walker shouts, “Let’s play with Legos.” Taylor yells, “No, I want to make a ‘struction site with Lincoln Logs.” With Lawson’s idea, they bellow out a loud “YES!!! Let’s build a pillow fort.”

If we throw apart the sofa to make “condominiums,” Walker and Lawson want big ones, with connectors between them, so they can pop in on each other. Taylor wants a teeny cozy one with a rooftop outlook for Scooby, his toy stuffed turtle. Seat cushions make walls; back cushions become roofs. The siblings sneak from “room” to “room,” rearranging the “doors.” They jump up and down, burrow through any openings. Walker flips, somersaults, bolts out of the room and skips back with my bed pillows. “I need these. My ‘magination told me to create a skyscraper.”

If they decide instead to mess up the bolsters enough to make a pit, they hoist themselves onto the windowsills above and plop onto the bouncy landing with warrior glee: “KOWABUNGA” or “I WIN!” It is 7:10 a.m.

At home in Maine, the day dawns lazier, my sinking into a leisurely meditation or savoring a quiet bowl of oatmeal while I puzzle through the Jumble in the paper. Whether charming light-bearers awaken us or whether we roll out of bed with our own enthusiasm, perhaps we are meant to greet the sunrise enchanted by God-within. With or without spirited toddlers, what if we all knew we could receive the Grace of early morning en-theos, feel that link to divinity? Dawn to dusk, that divine force might cut our fears and boost our bliss. Our warmth might enrich those we meet all day. If we dare to en-joy, maybe the world-soul would thank us.

Susan Lebel Young, MSEd, MSC has retired from her mental health counseling practice and from teaching yoga, meditation and mindfulness. She can be reached through www.heartnourishment.com or at [email protected]