Just Life

My Morning Practice.

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

I did allow myself a bit of a rabbit hole and found Lynn’s Instagram, and was rewarded with this

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.

14 Comments

  • Juliann

    When I was leaving the house to work, I always had coffee and prayer first thing. Now I am grabbing coffee and heading back to bed with a cup for Bill. I check IG, blogs, or read my kindle, loving that I can linger in bed. What I need to figure out now is how to get to that quiet time, prayer, and journaling. I don’t need to leave the house so I should be able to figure this out. I’m sure I will get there.
    Also, Maybe you know this but you can save posts on IG. It’s the little flag/ bookmark button the far right on the heart/comment line. I have collections for different categories.

  • April

    Thank you for sharing morning practice. I used to journal daily, which in the last couple of years comes in and out. In some ways I don’t want to relive the day, but find I process things better after I’ve written it down. I read an email meditation daily from the Jesuits, which includes a reading from daily Mass and a short prayer. I used to receive Richard Rohr’s meditations. Maybe I should give them another try? I want a daily practice I can balance with days I work, as well as the discipline to maintain it. I like that you have given yourself grace for the times your practice doesn’t go off as planned. That’s something I need to give myself without the negative mental talk when I don’t meet my own expectations.

  • Sarah

    I suppose the only real ritual I have now that’s from Before Times is my morning cup(s) of coffee with breakfast. But since we’ve been staying at home, my nearly daily practices that have centered me are my exercise (a daily run or walk) and a journal entry before bed. Occasionally I forget the latter because I’m busy before bed and then so tired that I just want to lie down, but when that happens, I catch up the next day. My entries aren’t always very long, but I do feel like the act of writing and seeing the pages fill is a way of preserving this extraordinary time in my memory.

  • karen

    I write in my journal when I wake up with coffee. Then I do all my praying and bible reading. I married a non-morning person so I am blissfully in quiet mode until I wake him up 🙂 I love starting my mornings with this routine!! Loved seeing your mornings.

  • Bonny

    My daily practice is just my morning cup of tea while I contemplate what the day will bring (and what I will bring to the day). Today is heading to Staples and the post office to finish up details on taxes, blanching and freezing 5 gallons of string beans, then mowing. My practice is more consistent and peaceful when I knit in the evening. Thanks for sharing your mornings!

  • Karen

    My journaling happens at night, right before I go to bed. My morning routine includes Richard Rohr’s Meditations, some kind of spiritual reading (most days), prayer (and like you, I find it hard to maintain a lengthy practice–I keep a prayer journal which helps me on hard days,) reading whatever is the current fiction or nonfiction book, and then checking email–particularly the NYTimes headlines and opinion pieces. It’s been so hot recently that we’ve started walking before breakfast. On those days, I find it very hard to fit all the pieces in, and dip in and out during the day. I don’t get on my Instagram account until later in the day, but my feed is much more craft-focused than inspirational.

  • Margene

    Hearing about your morning routine has filled me peace and joy. Richard Rohr’s quote puts into words how it is I am choosing to live–not even needing to know every anxiety producing detail. Thank you, Mary, for sharing your practice and calming my spirit.

  • Carole

    That’s a lot to conquer every morning! I’d love to know how much time you devote to all of this. I always start with my gratitude journal and I write 5 things I’m grateful for from the day before, then coffee along with email and social media on my laptop.

  • Debbie

    This is beautiful, Mary! My morning quiet time for prayer and contemplation has been a part of my daily life for many years and certain times are drier and more difficult than other times. Right now things are on the dry side for me. I really like Richard Rohr’s writings and I thank you for sharing the links, they look like they might be just what I need to refresh my prayer life right now.

  • Kat

    Isn’t it funny how quickly “life” can pull us away from what we thought was a set habit. It takes very little to do the same in my world…and when Steve was working full time from home, oh boy… that just derailed every routine! He is back at work most days, so I am focusing on getting back to my journaling/prayer time. Thank you for sharing your habit!

  • lydia

    Coffee and some quiet journal time, and occasionally watching the sun rise. Slow steady start to the day which is good ’cause then it’s work-work which has surprisingly taken up pretty much the same amount of time as when I was going into the office.

  • Katie @ The Cozy Burrow

    I read this post on Monday morning and have been swooning over it ever since. We have similar morning routines – I start with coffee and making sure my hobonichi weeks is up to date. Then I write in my journal which takes 20-30 minutes. After journaling, I used to do a daily bible reading and write in my prayer journal, but that’s become harder for me for a lot of reasons. Now, I typically turn on my computer, run to the basement to crank the dryer back up, and then refill my coffee cup on my way back to my desk to work on a blog post, respond to comments, and catch up on the blogs I follow. I stay at my desk for as long as the kids will let me… usually until right around 6am. It’s an amazing hour and a half of silence and it’s become so important to me – especially during these last few months. (and now the kids are ready to get up, so duty calls even though I want to write more in this comment!!)

  • Vera

    Sounds like you have a great morning ritual for you. My mornings start with coffee, but no IG. Occasionally email, but mostly I sit and think while I wake up or work on a little knitting (something easy like my Hitchhiker or socks). currently I’m missing my mid-day walks, but with the antibiotic I’m on for Lyme I need to stay out of the sun, so I’m taking that to heart. Catching up a bit on blogs today. I vote for Malaga Tank or Topolino for you!

  • Jane

    My morning practice is fairly simple. In the good weather, I begin with a stretching routine and then a quiet walk – no phone. After breakfast, I have the first cup of tea, journal, and spend time at my desk – sometimes writing sometimes thinking, sometimes reading. Often my morning involves a FaceTime call with my daughter and some combination of her children. In the winter I walk in the afternoons.