There was a time in my life that I was in a conflicted relationship with quiet and time alone. Mostly because it did not feel quiet, no matter how alone i was. There was an internal storm, waling winds of emotion stirring in my chest, flooding thoughts of fear and self-judgement. All that was with me in the daily flow of life, but daily life and work had a way of grabbing and refocusing attention, often creating another layer of intensity on top of the internal storm that never went away. So I would yearn for time alone, to be free of that which called for my attention and responsibility, only to find myself with an unsettled and noisy internal life, that most often left me feeling incapable of finding peace.
Age, and the pandemic era, have brought shifts in me. Patti and I have gotten used to being at home, just the two of us, no time traveling with all of the movement and preparations required. We are not sitting in a car with the routine of the radio filling space, or in an airport or train station filled with sound and movement swirling around us while we stand in line waiting. We live in a large house, and Patti has always held onto her identity as an introvert, so there is plenty of room for us to find space apart.
This period of our lives has brought the opportunity to practice being alone. For some reason my sleeping patterns found me waking early, somewhere between 4:00 and 5:00 am. I began to embrace this waking before the sun would rise, feeling the thickness of the dark and silence. In this space, I would notice all that was stirring inside of me, without the distractions of life outside calling for attention, and I finally began to understand the word "equanimity", an openness to whatever was stirring, in fact a welcoming, as if whatever was happening was a guest, a visitor. I could practice hosting with a kind curiosity, watching the "guests" come and go.
The early morning has become a very special time. It has become a time to notice people in my life who cross my mind in this quiet space, visiting me, always bringing gifts, if I pause to notice.
Yesterday my friend Kirk brought attention to the early morning practices he has shaped in his life, a life filled with growing children at home far more than they would like to be, living under the constraints of covid-19. An invitation to pay attention to the practices of my morning.
Two of my friends, Vivian and Heather, have drawn my attention to the poetry of John O'Donohue, and without directly saying anything, inviting me to spend some moments with his writing. And so I did..and he gets the last word.
A Morning Offering I bless the night that nourished my heart To set the ghosts of longing free Into the flow and figure of dream That went to harvest from the dark Bread for the hunger no one sees. All that is eternal in me Welcomes the wonder of this day, The field of brightness it creates Offering time for each thing To arise and illuminate. I place on the altar of dawn: The quiet loyalty of breath, The tent of thought where I shelter, Waves of desire I am shore to And all beauty drawn to the eye. May my mind come alive today To the invisible geography That invites me to new frontiers, To break the dead shell of yesterdays, To risk being disturbed and changed. May I have the courage today To live the life that I would love, To postpone my dream no longer But do at last what I came here for And waste my heart on fear no more. John O'Donohue A Book of Blessings