In the morning I will sing of Your love

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.

       - Psalm 59:16


My favorite time of the day is very early in the morning, so early it’s still dark out and the whole house is silent. What started out four years ago as a ten minute morning routine has evolved into a good forty-five minutes of reading scripture, breathing in stillness, setting my intention to pursue peace and avoid distractions, surrendering my worries to God, and journaling my way into an eternal and resurrectional perspective on my trials and uncertainties.


I have to wind down early in order to rise early. By 8:45 pm, I am reading my book in bed because it’s lights out at 9:00 pm.  I’ve slowly, over time, altered my schedule to build in what I consider to be the most important habit in my life. I cannot fathom attempting to navigate my daily choices and temptations without first rooting myself to Christ and arming myself with as many tools as possible for overcoming the devil’s constant attempts to poison my calm with inner turmoil. 


In our catechism class last week, our priest referred to an analogy he learned in seminary and I have found it to be profoundly helpful. He said to imagine the heart as a censer, our aim being to keep the censer lit by not allowing the coal to grow cold.  In those early morning hours I light the censer of my heart with prayer and contemplation then all throughout the day try to keep it lit through edifying content, the Jesus Prayer, obedience to the Holy Spirit, gratitude, creativity, kindness, patience… 


This spiritual challenge both keeps me tethered to the present moment and focused on the state of my own heart rather than on the chaos of the world around me. And the beautiful and merciful thing is that even when I do inevitably get distracted and the coal of my censer loses its warmth and fragrance, I need only return (as swiftly as possible) to the habits and vigilance that fill me with peace and rest. 

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