Stillness on a December Morning
There were times this year when we were not sure we would make it to another December morning.
This year has threatened to overwhelm us. We have pushed through, over, and around obstacles this year. Some of us have survived the loss of people we love. Many of us have persisted in the face of losing dreams we worked hard to try to fulfill. We may have lost jobs we sacrificed to get or friendships we struggled to find.
It has been an unexpectedly long, hard year. It has been a year of illness and death, of storms, fires, and explosions. Some of us stood in line for hours to buy groceries or to vote in the election.
The last year has been one of challenging days for week after week, month after month.
Now, finally, we have persisted long enough to arrive at a December morning.
Some of us have been eager to wake up on a December morning because it means this wretched year is almost over.
Others of us enjoy December because we appreciate being under the blankets, rolling over to go back to sleep. A December morning may be our signal to begin hibernating for the winter.
This will not be the December we anticipated a year ago.
Many of us will choose to shop online instead of in person. We will decide to spend our holidays by ourselves instead of gathering together to celebrate. Some of us will sacrifice our plans and expectations for a year until things “return to normal.”
This December morning has the potential to be the beginning of a more contemplative practice for us.
Today can be the first day, the first morning, of a new way of living in December.
Listening to This December Morning
Each morning has its own voice, its own song to sing and its own story to tell.
Our contemplative practice is about taking time to listen, to appreciate, what this morning has to share with us.
This morning wants to tell us about hope and possibilities. Each morning has a story of beginning again to share with us. Even after months of struggling with difficulties we never expected, every morning has good news for us if we are ready to listen.
Each December morning is trying to tell us about opportunities to make a fresh start. We may assume December is too late, there is not enough time for us to make a difference, to make progress. December mornings are trying to tell us otherwise.
Many of us find coffee or tea helps us listen well. We may prefer to get up before anyone else and listen to the morning on our own. It helps us to sit still, close our eyes, and breathe deeply.
The stillness of this December morning echoes in the world around us and within us. The stillness inside us is the same as the stillness around us. We sit and listen, allowing the sacred stillness to find its home in our lives.
Listening well can be difficult. Sometimes we need the help which comes from looking out the window or watching a fire in the fireplace.
It takes time for us to listen to a December morning well. There is a significant amount of stillness to hear. We cannot hear everything all at once. We need to take our time and practice being open to what each morning has to share with us.
When we listen to the stillness of a December morning it can be easy for us to miss what is most significant.
Sitting in the Stillness of a December Morning
Fortunately for us, it is not difficult for us to sit in the stillness of these mornings. Even on the mornings we would rather spend in bed, under the blankets, we can listen to what the morning has to tell us.
The stillness to which we listen is sacred. It is not sacred because we have worked so hard or sacrificed so much to listen well. In fact, the stillness of this December morning is sacred because it does not depend on our efforts.
the stillness to which we listen this morning is sacred because it is a gift. When we take time to stop and listen we can begin to hear spiritual life in the stillness.
We sit still and practice being open to the stillness of each new December morning. Our practice is not about earning stronger spiritual life or becoming a better person.
When we sit listening to the stillness of a December morning, the stillness becomes sacred. We feel the power of the stillness to fill us and heal us as we sit still and practice being open.
Each morning we listen helps us become more open.
Open to the Stillness of a December Morning
A significant part of my contemplative listening practice is learning how not to pay attention to distractions.
My brain is good at reminding me of things to think about as I begin trying to listen to sacred stillness. I start to remember all the things I have forgotten, people I forgot to call or ideas I forgot to consider. When I start paying attention to my brain’s voice I realize I am not listening to stillness anymore.
It helps me to take time to listen to stillness as early on a December morning as I can. I practice being open and listening before I start working on other things.
The more I practice being open to the stillness of this December morning, the better I can pay attention. It does not mean I never get distracted, it means I return more gently to listening to sacred stillness.
Each morning we sit still and become open to the sacred stillness within us and all around us.
How will we practice listening to the sacred stillness of this December morning?
Where will we listen to the stillness of each December morning this month?
[Image by GranniesKitchen]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and coach in Southern California. He has served as an assistant district attorney, an associate university professor, and is a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.