It’s 4:45 in the morning. Oh no, not again. Not today . . . I rub my forehead and cringe as I sit up, groping for my robe, then make my way groggily to the kids’ room.

He’s standing up in his crib, arms outstretched, pointing to the door. He’s stopped crying.

“UP,” he demands, and I scoop him up and hustle him out as quickly as I can, so he won’t wake his brother.

“It’s nighttime!” I tell him in my resentful exasperation.

“Highchair,” he baby-talks. I give up and take him to the kitchen.

There is no yesterday

While he’s munching on cereal, I have my head in my hands. Looking out the large, westward window, there’s no hint of dawn. What on earth are we doing up? What wakes him up so ridiculously early?

I must not yet be fully awake. I try to remember what day it is, bidding the wheels, still sleeping in my brain, to turn. I try to think back to yesterday, and in my tired, hazy, sleep-deprived state, a funny thing happens. I remember nothing. There is no yesterday.

A subconscious thought rises in my sleep-clouded head, and I find myself whispering words.

Modeh Ani . . . I am grateful to You, Living King, who has returned my soul to me with compassion. Great is Your trust in me.”

Cheerful birdsong heralds the arrival of today. A new day, that does not build off of yesterday, but stretches before me with possibility. The first ray of morning reaches our kitchen, and I smile at the baby playing with his apple. Today can be anything; the morning is pregnant with opportunity. I am awed by the newness of the slowly brightening sky.

I can be anything, too. I don’t have to hold on to my old habits, nor must I repeat routine actions from yesterday. I don’t have to have the same problems today that I had yesterday. I don’t have to be bothered by the same things, or fall into the same ruts. And, if I made mistakes or was short-tempered yesterday, it does not mean anything about how wise and patient I am today. When G‑d returned my soul to me, fresh and rejuvenated, He created me anew, and it is in my hands to mold the uniqueness of the day.

As I wake up slowly, the welcoming warmth outside reminds me that I am cleaning for Passover. I realize I can get an early start on things today. “You returned my soul to me with compassion.”

I am up on a stool, scrubbing the large window that overlooks the mountains, trying to rub away the dirt and dust that has fallen on the wooden windowsill and frame. I know dust is not chametz, those dreaded leavened crumbs which I am supposed to be searching out and getting rid of. But in my pre-Passover spring cleaning, I am aiming for something more than a house free of crumbs. I am trying to replicate the newness that I feel this morning. I want my house to experience the freshness of a new day, of a new year.

The morning is pregnant with opportunityOn the way to the store for a refill of bleach, I pass a herd of sheep grazing on the Bet Shemesh hill. Early spring, the time of new birth; the newborn lambs stand shakily. I think about those lambs as I climb to our highest bookshelf to shake out the books and dust them. Passover. Rebirth. When G‑d took the Jews out of Egypt, we became a nation for the first time. Pesach is the holiday of our nation’s birth, and year after year we celebrate the opportunity for rebirth. The nectarine blossoms outside my window don’t care if fruit rotted on the tree the year before. They push themselves into the brisk spring air with a youthful freshness all their own.

I find myself bleaching the walls. I heard of people cleaning their walls for Passover, and had thought they were crazy. Isn’t that going a little overboard? I mean, how much leavened bread could be stuck to your wall? But as the Israeli whitewash in our dining room gets a little shinier and whiter, I smile inwardly. Tomorrow I may not feel so inspired by the new chance of spring, by the newness of each and every day. I may need the walls of my home, my sparkling windows and dusted bookcase to remind me, “Today is a new day. A new chance. You can be whatever you decide to be. You can accomplish anything you want. Passover is coming. The whole world is fresh and new.”

I think I understand why G‑d chose to take His new nation out of Egypt and lead them on their desert journey with Him in early spring. We are a nation of springtime, of ingrained renewal. We wake up each morning and thank G‑d for the gift of a new day, and the opportunity for infinite achievement. “How great is Your trust that we will use each day to its fullest.”