This article was originally published in The Lutheran magazine’s e-newsletter.
In those silent first moments of the day, my movements are slow. I pause to breathe and I listen. Mornings are not my favorite time of day. I have a beautiful relationship with my blankets and comforters that make it difficult to unravel from the cocoon of warmth that surrounds me when I sleep. And yet there are a number of things that compel me to rise every morning. When it isn’t work, it’s my dog, Olaf. He won’t wake me up if I’m asleep though; instead he has learned to wait until he’s sure I’m up. As soon as my feet hit the floor, he’ll run around the apartment, eager to go on our morning walk.
Lately I’ve been reflecting on the many ways my friends do morning devotions. My Grandma Marie, for one, reads from a book of daily devotions each morning. Her day does not start until she has finished, which means she needs to wake up extra early some days in order to leave the house on time. My friend Emily journals every morning as part of her spiritual practice. I’ve thought of trying both but they were not quite right for me in the mornings.
While in Suriname and Guyana for work, I experienced yet another way of doing devotions. One morning at breakfast my colleague asked me if she could play one of her audio devotions. As we listened, I was pleasantly surprised by how simple and yet profound the recording was. Perhaps I’ll download something to listen to on the bus ride to work in the future.
My friend Rafael from Suriname taught me something important about spiritual practices. Rafael helped coordinate a Glocal Mission Gathering hosted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Suriname with the churches of Guyana and French Guyana. As worship coordinator and musician, he couldn’t do everything he wished he could, yet he made the best of it. “I was sad I missed the care of creation conversation, but then I had my own care for creation experience by the river, watching community come together,” he said. “I couldn’t fully participate in the conversation on violence around children, but when we prayed for the healing of the nations, I fully prayed for the children.
“Even though there was much to do, I received so much more than I had hoped for, even though it was in different ways.”
His words brought me back to the simplicity of my mornings at home. Although I may not be fully awake, early mornings are a time when I breathe deep in preparation and hope for whatever the day may bring. I realized, too, that my walks with Olaf have become important in my spiritual life. There are many ways to do devotions, but this walk, in that early morning space, is my time for prayer and reflection.