Monastic Strategies: Embracing Each New Morning

Monastic Strategies: Embracing Each New Morning February 11, 2021

Monastic Strategies: Embracing Each New Morning

Embracing Each New Morning

We wake up each new morning. Remembering who we are, we open our eyes and rise to embrace a new day.

Some days it takes us a little longer to wake up, and others we would prefer to remain asleep. If we choose to stay in bed with the blankets over our heads we risk missing the gifts of that day. Light is growing in the east. People and experiences are waiting for us. We might not receive the love carefully prepared for us, or give the love we have prepared for others.

If we keep our eyes closed, we will not see.

Monastic mornings begin early, with light from the stars rather than the sun. We wake up and gather, in person or in spirit, to pray Vigils.

O God, come to our assistance. O Lord, make haste to help us.

Vigils set the tone for our days. Slowly we open our eyes in the dark and light begins to appear on our horizon.

Before breakfast, even before coffee, we begin to embrace each new morning.

There are times when rising and waking up can be too much for us to do. We have not slept, wrestling all night with unseen challenges and adversaries. Some of us spend the time we needed to rest contending with ourselves.

The monastic community surrounds us and carries us, giving us time to rest and heal.

Each new morning is a time to appreciate, to awaken, to catch glimpses of the dawn. The light spreads, and our eyes are opened. We wake up to ourselves. This new morning can bring us alive.

Most of us have a morning ritual. While we may not all practice Vigils or Lauds, each of us has our own ways to embrace our new morning.

The Gift of a New Morning

A new morning is like a gift we get to unwrap each day.

Not every morning is Christmas morning, and we do not always get the present we most wanted. Some of us were hoping for one kind of morning, only to find we have received something else.

I often experience the excitement of a new beginning. A good night’s sleep usually helps me resolve and settle some longstanding conflicts with myself. Of course, I have not always enjoyed a good night’s sleep every morning. Some mornings I would like to stay in bed, which is its own kind of gift.

My mornings generally set the tone for the rest of my day. I feel most at home in the morning, and might write better and make a little more sense. My listening is probably better.

The challenge for me each new morning is to be present to its newness. I need to let go of the regrets and frustrations of yesterday and not to be snared by the fantasies or fear of the future.

Some of us experience our mornings, and our days, as filled with demands and expectations. We start to feel they are not our own, but apparently already belong to other people.

It is important for us to find a balance which is healthy for us. We want to make meaningful contributions to bring out the best in other people. It is almost impossible for us to have healthy relationships without taking the time we need for ourselves.

We will not appreciate the gift of each new morning unless we learn how to receive that gift.

Our new morning rituals help us learn receive and appreciate each day. We unwrap a new present and  play with it the rest of the day.

Each New Morning Embraces Us

Each new morning is a new beginning, a fresh start.

The joy, and the challenge, of each new morning is how everything can change. Each day is filled with possibilities, full of potential. Part of that potential is how we embrace the day, our attitude toward what can happen. Another part is how each day embraces us.

Not all days are brightness and joy. We all have mornings when terrible things happen.

Some mornings our computer will not cooperate so we can accomplish what we hope to do. There are days which feel like a long series of obstacles or distractions or weaknesses.

Each day, every morning, is a combination of how we embrace the day and how it embraces us. Our rituals help us set the tone for each day and choose how we embrace each other.

When days embrace us in ways which are painful or overwhelming or frustrating, other people can be helpful. While it is important to decide who we can trust and who will help us well, other people can help.

Each new morning is a dance in which the day embraces us and we embrace the day.

The Dance of Each New Morning

Not every day’s dance will be smooth or successful. Some days will be difficult to embrace and some mornings we will still want to stay in bed.

As we practice we will learn new ways to dance together. The challenging days will show us new ways to embrace them. Each new day is another opportunity to try something new.

We are not trying to embrace our new mornings perfectly. Each day we learn more, and we never finish learning.

Each new morning has something new to teach us.

Many of us have embraced quite a few challenging mornings lately. Some of us have lost jobs or lost dreams or lost loved ones. The lessons of these days are painful and we may regret embracing them.

While they are not easy, these lessons will stay with us for many days to come. We will have more opportunities to embrace as we reflect on what they have for us.

We wake up each new morning and we rise to embrace the new day.

How will we embrace the new morning we receive today?

Where will our dance with each new morning this week lead us?

[Image by milkisprotein]

Greg Richardson is a spiritual director 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 and his email address is

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