No, they are amazingly better. The ritual is very simple and takes maybe thirty or forty five minutes. Here it is...
First, I tiptoe downstairs alone, like an itchy elephant ballerina with a full bladder, trying my best to not wake Handsome. Most times this is only marginally successful. Once downstairs, I switch on only as many lamps as I absolutely need and barely whisper to Pacino (the parrot). I don't want him to wake up my guy either. Then I press the start button on my beloved coffee machine. For the next ten minutes while it is brewing, hissing, and bubbling, gulping out that fragrant steam like the faithful companion that it is, I do some very unprofessional but still infinitely satisfying yoga stretches and deliberately say thanks for as many blessings as I can summon.
breathe in blessingsbreathe out peace
This is easy to do, because my life is sparkling with good things. It really is. So is yours. I believe the good outweighs the difficult every time you pay attention.
the grass is greenest where you water it
The wannabe yoga stretches warm up my body and loosen my joints and muscles from the tethers of slumber. The gratitude exercise unlocks my heart and quiets any hurts or complaints I might have taken to bed with me the night before. The threshold between my days, then, is a positive one. A dimly lit room seems best for this first part. It's also poetic, allowing an inner light to be the first spark between dark earthly days.
For this next beautiful little slice of the day I indulge in reading very positive, motivational, inspirational stuff. I save the challenging texts for other times, allowing this first hour of my day to be a tank-filling time, a time for cushioning my heart and fueling my mind with the positivity I'll need the rest of the day.
every action is preceded by a thought
Sometimes I read from just a creative devotional book, or maybe a bunch of various quotes, or maybe a few chapters from a particular book that just happens to flood me with goodness. No major rules here, just that it's positive.
Lately, and this is a sign of personal spiritual progress, I've also been reading from the Bible. Our Pastor has been encouraging us to read certain scriptures repeatedly throughout each week, and the timing is funny. Because is the Bonhoeffer biography I just finished, Bonhoeffer spoke about the value of not just reading the scriptures but meditating on them. This is different from vain repetition, too. So I've been doing just that. I choose one or two chapters maybe every week or so, selections that either feel relevant to me or have been assigned at church... and just soak into them day after day. I try to allow them to soak into me, more accurately, and see what changes happen. It has been wonderful.
for the body is not one member, but many*
That chapter in Corinthians has helped me conquer some plaguing insecurity. If you know me personally, then you know what a big deal that is.
Then I spend a few minutes writing circular mandalas (more thankfulness) and focusing prayerfully on a special loved one. In the quiet house, with darkness still cloaking the big east window, I write down my hopes and prayers for that person. I imagine those hopes coming to fruition. I visualize those prayers being answered.
The last thing I do is read and write creatively for a little bit. I finish drinking a cup or two of coffee, check email, and feed and smooch Pacino. This is all such a nourishing start to the day, preparing me for whatever lays ahead. My heart feels full, thrumming, overflowing. My body craves strength and healthy food and water, not junk or inactivity. I almost always go on extra long runs on these days. And my mind is centered and framed with a positive attitude. Sometimes I feel downright giddy at the end of this early morning ritual! The beauty of life becomes so deliciously overwhelming.
So... there is a dark, quiet house in the earliest possible hour of the day. Yoga and thankfulness. Perfectly fresh coffee. Inspirational reading. Prayers and meditation, asking for blessings on the people I love. And finally more reading and writing, of any variety. What a glorious, lucky way to start any day! Just writing about it tonight makes me look forward to tomorrow.
What is your earliest morning ritual? How do you insulate and energize yourself for a day of work? If you want to try any of this, I'd love to know about it. I'd like to think that some of my friends and loved ones are also up at that hour, counting their blessings and filling up on love and hope.
"Morning is when the wick is lit. A flame ignited,
the day delighted with heat and light,
we start the fight for something more than before."
*I Corinthians 12: 14