One of the joys of living north of town is the trees. A good walk through the woods is good for body and soul. I used to have morning prayer time on my couch, but for some reason, in this season of life, I’ve needed to walk.

One of the first things that happens when I take time for silence is I start remembering all the things I am supposed to be doing but haven’t gotten to yet. A friend I haven’t called in a while. A colleague going through a difficult time. An oil change. The bills! That angry person who upset me yesterday.

When we stop doing, stop giving in to the tyranny of the urgent, stuff in the back of the mind surfaces. I used to fight this. I would push it down, away, and try to clear my mind. My fear of forgetting these important things would keep them nagging at me.

Then one day my wise spiritual director suggested I listen to that voice. Perhaps that too was the voice of God. Perhaps some of this stuff was important to pay attention to. This is what prater is for. He suggested I write these things down as they emerged. So I did, obediently, with pad and paper, then later with my laptop, and these days with my phone.

What I end up with is a to do list, and a sense of priorities, a sense of what’s important. Once written down I can spend a moment praying about them, these people or tasks, then I truly can let them go, knowing they will be waiting for me later. The only time I can do this is the morning. The barrage of calls and emails and tasks has not yet intruded. The mind is as open and clear as it’s going to be.

In time the nagging stops and a peace sets in. I notice the trees for the first time. I smell them. I heard the birds and bugs chattering (to me?). I try to count the different kinds of bird sounds. I stop to pet a cat. I am acutely aware of the world around me. It has stopped spinning. I laugh. I am renewed. Again. Those indestructible balls from the sweetgum trees crunch under my feet.

“Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength…” Isaiah says. This is not physical strength. I have less of that than 30 years ago. I thank the apostle Paul for writing these words: “Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)

I return to the street. The sun is now peeking over the trees. People are walking their dogs. I try to remember their names, the dogs too. 🙂 One lady has a lab named Scotty. I tell her she should get a scotty and name it Lab. They both smile. The cars rush by as everyone hurries to work. Life in exurbia.

By the time I get back to the house I’m running a bit late. To do items are popping up on my phone. It’ll have to be a quick shower. Breakfast will be a banana in the car. But it’s worth it. I can be human today. Hopefully kind. Life will be humorous. I can listen, and meet the insurmountable challenges with joy.

I wish you the same.