Friday, November 18, 2011

random thoughts on a somewhat random rule of life: morning

Our lives have rhythms to them. Formally or informally we find ourselves operating within a rule of life. Some of this is spiritual, some material. So here, my somewhat idiosyncratic rule of life these days:

1. I wake up around 5 a.m., and begin to listen to National Public Radio (Asheville, WCQS). Oddly enough, I am soon enough asleep again. But around 6:15 I am awake again, and here the morning hours begin to take a more intentional shape.

2. I have prepared the coffee the night before, but push a simple button to actually brew it. As life goes on I find myself becoming a coffee snob, and at the same time I delight in finding really good coffee at a correspondingly good (sale) price. So I rotate between Dunkin Donuts, Trader Joes, Peets and Smoky Mountain Roasters, the latter locally roasted in Waynesville.

3. While the coffee is brewing I enter into the morning devotional. For some time I have been using Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Claiborne, Wilson-Hartgrove and Okoro. I recommend it. For me, its strengths lie in the combination of intellectual and spiritual resources, in its acknowledgement that God is at work in the world beyond the church, and in its balance of personal and social holiness. I am also discovering that a number of very close friends have found their way to this book and are using it, and I sense that I am a part of a kind of informal and dispersed community.

4. If I have more time, I try to then do some deeper reading. This year I have selected a few books that have meant a great deal to me along the way, and I am re-reading them. So I have read Bonhoeffer's Life Together, Parker Palmer's The Active Life, and I am now working through many of the essays in the (Stanley) Hauerwas Reader.

5. By now I am drinking a second or third cup of coffee and it is time for breakfast. I have a very simple menu: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. There are a few small variations, in that I may substitute honey at times of the year, and the kind of bread varies, from sourdough to rye to whole wheat. If the weather is exceptionally cold and I have had a light dinner the night before I may supplement the sandwich with oatmeal.

6. I should add at this point that I have not turned a computer on, nor have I looked at my smartphone yet. I want the agenda for the day to begin in silence, and who knows, perhaps it may even be the Spirit's voice, or my own plans, but I do not want to begin the day with an agenda that is set by demands that may or may not be helpful. I can respond to these soon enough.

7. I turn National Public Radio on again, and begin listening to the news. At the moment we do not have a television in the main area of the cabin where we live (there is a small one in an out of the way room downstairs), and I do not subscribe to a daily newspaper (although I do often buy the Sunday New York Times). So this is my source for news. Once I have heard the news cycle on Morning Edition, I shift to...

8. Pandora, which is a free internet music source. I love music and my own personal tastes in the morning for some time are most closely related to the Modern Jazz Quartet. So I listen to jazz music, begin to check my smart phone, respond to a few inquiries, look at Facebook,Twitter and my calendar, and begin to work on a to-do list for the day (see Atul Gawande's The Checklist Manifesto). In Advent this changes, as I listen exclusively to a wide range of Christmas music.

9. It is still fairly early and by now I have the sense that the morning is passing, and it is time to go to work. But I have found this structure to be a helpful preparation for me as I move toward the needs and requests of others.


Blogger slyegiles said...

4:15 am, Really!

7:17 PM  
Blogger Ken Carter said...

hey susan, the time is wrong on the entry :-)

7:26 PM  

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