One of the things I took away from last month’s Looking Back was re-committing to my morning journal and prayer practice. The practice had evolved since I retired (morning practice time? wow!), and then Marc (what’s morning quiet time?!), and then SAH/COVID. Marc and I started walking together (which takes a lot more time than the treadmill/pilates routine I’d just started to embrace), I found it hard to sit still and focus on much of anything, let alone close my eyes and quiet my mind for 20 minutes, I expanded my Instagram follows to include more voices, we hosted the little boys for two days each week … and I gave myself space to be ok with all of that. I kept up bits and pieces of the practice, but gave myself all kinds of permission to let other parts fall away. There were days I skipped all of it and it was ok. and still. the days I made time – even if it wasn’t the dark-early morning time I love – to do all of it were my better days.
Mostly as a way to tell a piece of my story right now and a little bit thinking y’all might find something helpful here, too – I’m going to share what “my practice” looks like on the best days, the resources I use regularly, and a few recent finds that y’all might find helpful too.
My days ALWAYS begin with a cup of coffee and Instagram. My feed is full of inspiration and thought-provoking images. I try to limit the rabbit holes and have started snagging a screen shot of something (yarn, a pattern, a book/author/podcast, a new-to-me feed, a news item) so I can follow-up later (it’s funny – some days I see those screen shots and simply delete them – the desire to fall down the rabbit hole has passed).
Next, I open my journal and record what happened yesterday (including what crafting projects I worked on and what books I read). Then I journal a few thoughts (always including the weather and local COVID stats and sometimes not much more), closing with Five Gratefuls and Three Things for Today.
I get more coffee and start the “prayer time”. (on days I walk really early with Marc, I come back to the “prayer part” after the walk. #retired) First is the daily entry in Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals and next is Richard Rohr (the Center for Action and Contemplation’s daily meditation – they show up in my in box every morning and I read them on my phone). I take a few notes. This past week’s series was “Wisdom in Times of Crisis” and featured different voices each day. Thursday (pictured above) was Brian McLaren. He wrote about “other viruses that have been spreading and causing even greater damage, without being acknowledged: social and spiritual viruses that spread among us from individual to individual, from generation to generation, and are not named … social and spiritual viruses like racism, white supremacy, human supremacy, Christian supremacy, any kind of hostility that is spread, based on prejudice and fear.” He closed with this:
“The old normal, when you look at it from today’s perspective, was not so great, not something to be nostalgic about, without also being deeply critical of it. As we experience discomfort in this time, let’s begin to dream of a new normal, a new normal that addresses the weaknesses and problems that were going unaddressed in the old normal. If we’re wise, we won’t go back; we’ll go forward.”
Yesterday’s post shared a poem, Pandemic, by a new-to-me poet Lynn Ungar.
Now I dive into some “spiritual growth” reading. Usually I have one or two books in process. Right now, I’m reading Native on my own and Grounded with my small group. Stories keep popping up (I’m sure it’s partly because I’m looking for them) – this is from Wednesday’s Native reading
and finally, on the best days, I spend 20 minutes in Centering Prayer. Of all the pieces of my practice, this has been the hardest to keep. Sitting still with my eyes closed for 20 minutes isn’t ever easy, and my COVID brain finds it even harder to quiet. I actually made it to 17 minutes this morning before I opened my eyes. I felt the difference. or maybe the words from Richard Rohr (this week’s series is on Contemplative Activists) sunk in.
“We cannot grow in the great art form of action and contemplation without a strong tolerance for ambiguity, an ability to allow, forgive, and contain a certain degree of anxiety, and a willingness to not know – and not even need to know.”
Reading back over what I’ve written, it’s clear why these past few days have helped solidify the value of these practices for me. I found wisdom, inspiration, acceptance, and even tiny bits of peace. Do you have a regular daily practice? has it been challenging to maintain? are their voices you find particularly wise or inspiring? I’d love to hear!
Here’s to a new week (y’all, today marked day 120 in my COVID journal) – be safe and be well.