What a wonder each day’s sunrise! As soft rays of light peek over the trees, it is always as if for the first time. Dawn beckons with an invitation to begin anew, to see things in a fresh way. “Yesterday is past,” it whispers; “you only have today and all its possibilities.” Hope rises with the advent of a new day. Part of letting hope spread is to begin each day anchored in stillness, taking nothing for granted, open to whatever the coming day’s gift may be. Before you turn on the radio, before you wake the kids, listen to the silence for ten minutes and realize how filled it is, filled with the breath of God! Such silence wants to draw from you a quiet prayer that leans on that presence and seeks to harken to it throughout the day. It all starts with the morning, the fertile soil that helps us to realize our vow always to be better, to leave our world a better place by day’s end.
The Monks of New Skete, Rise Up with a Listening Heart
This is not the first time I’ve attempted to start my days with silence. I’ve been working on it for quite some time, in earnest since the first time I read this devotion. It’s nothing revelatory, really – the advice, that is. The idea of beginning your day by listening, of finding ten minutes of silence. The experience can be pure revelation, but the advice itself is not unique to the Monks of New Skete.
But in all of my attempts, I must say that I have been mostly frustrated. I don’t do stillness that well. Its not just that I am easily distracted (which I am), or that the world is conspiring against my silence (which it is), or even that I have a restless body incapable of physically being still (which I do). Its that it is hard. Really truly hard to just shut it all off for thirty seconds.
In the past I’ve found that freewriting can be an exercise like this for me, allowing me to take in and absorb by giving me an outlet to regurgitate the experience. But never did that really qualify as silence or stillness for me. It helped; it got me closer, but it did not hit the nail on the head.
Today I opened this book again, intending on flowing through it each morning once again. I read these words, set myself to the task once again, and met frustration once again, like every other of the myriad times I have been brave enough to attempt to conquer myself and be still. I managed approximately seventeen seconds of mildly congested silence. With no other real choice, I called it a win and went about my morning routine.
For the past month I have been taking a short walk every morning before the rest of the fam is up and moving. So this morning, as I have trained myself to do, I finished my devotions, did all my silly little exercises, and stepped into my keens for a chilly stroll down the driveway. I no sooner unlocked the chickens from their coop than I could see it clearly. My walks are exactly what the Monks of New Skete are nudging me towards. They have inadvertently filled that gap in my life, to a tee. Of course there is no literal stillness, in the physical sense, but my ten-minute jaunts in the twilight still my heart more than ten hours of combined efforts elsewhere, and they do it effortlessly to boot.
In my walks I find, without fail, that my mind is still, my eyes and heart are open, and I am breathing in the goodness of a new day. I hear the layers of existence, with my ears and with my spirit. I feel God’s hand, forming the world all around me, and me in it. I am watchful, I am grateful, and I am hopeful.
Again, the irony of finally stumbling upon the answer, once I have given up trying so hard to find it. Again, God.
A chronological listing of the posts in this series:
- Learning How to Learn – a secondhand MOOC (A what???) (3/25/2015)
- Advice I can finally follow… (4/15/2015)
- Procrastination indeed. (4/18/2015)
- Catch and Release (5/5/2015)
- My Mind Palace… For Real (5/10/2015)
- Completed MOOC – a look back… (9/19/2015)