Not having grown up in a tradition with a liturgy or lectionary or a set schedule for morning and evening prayers, I’ve been on the look-out for my own spiritual practice. I had a long list of things I thought I “should” be doing: prayer, Bible reading, meditation, journaling, paying attention to my dreams, drawing my dreams or prayers, etc. The list was so long that many mornings I would feel defeated and condemned before I even said “Good Morning, God”. If I did everything on my list, I would need four hours so often I practiced nothing but guilt and defeat.
Often in recent years I would hear about a certain format for morning prayer or study or meditation and decide I had found my spiritual practice. “I’ll do that daily for the rest of my life,” I’d say to myself and begin.
Three months later I would find myself doing something else. I’d be doing something but not what I had set for myself. More guilt and defeat would ensue. I have even said that I felt like I had Attention Deficit Disorder of the Spiritual Life. People who heard me say this would laugh and I would laugh but behind the laughter was a sad truth.
Recently I said all of this to my spiritual director. She listened intently and then she said something that has transformed my spiritual life. “Cherry, it isn’t about what you do; it’s about being faithful.”
Since hearing that, I have made a concentrated effort to spend the first thirty minutes of every day focusing on God and God’s presence and love. I have given myself permission to do different things. Some mornings I pray first; sometimes I read Scripture first; sometimes I journal first but whatever I do, I make a concerted effort to be aware of God’s presence for at least thirty minutes.
Interestingly a personal spiritual practice has begun to emerge. More about that later.