Cleaning out my closet is not one of my favorite things to do. It seems overwhelming and takes me days to find the gumption to do it. But, when I am done, there is nothing like the clean floor, easy to find coats and scarves, and the neat line of matched shoes. One of my favorite things about cleaning out my closet isn’t all the things I get to throw away, it is finding pieces I had completely forgotten about because they had been hiding in the mess. Suddenly, I have a new skirt or colorful top that I had completely forgotten about that can be incorporated into my daily wardrobe.
After spending the last year in intense therapy and doing some deep cleaning of my spiritual life, I feel like I have some new pieces of my soul that I am looking forward to living out. After spending months of cleaning out and getting rid of thoughts and ideas that were harmful to me, I am enjoying some of the gifts that were hiding under the mess. Suddenly, I have new skill sets and prayer practice that I had completely forgotten about or now unexpectantly fits.
You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level. ~Thomas Merton
One thing I am doing each morning is Lectio Divina. Lectio Divina is simple and takes only a few minutes of my day. I read the daily verse from the lectionary and imagine where I would find myself and the Lord in the story. Sometimes it brings me great comfort and others it shows me places of weakness that God wants to heal and make whole. Either way, I am reminded that God is in the whole of my day, not just the “spiritual”, for it is all spiritual. There is a great site that has each day’s verse read out loud to you and helps guides this practice called Pray As You Go. The site is filled with other prayer practices as well and a nice collection of music.
The second part of my daily practice includes a long walk alone. I listen to audiobooks, podcasts, music, or sometimes I just mentally list what I am grateful for. This part of my day gets my blood moving and gives me some time to myself. I notice I have more energy and am able to be more present with my family when I give my body this gift of walking alone.
The last part of my daily practice is centering prayer. In centering prayer, you clear your mind of all thoughts and silence your inner self. Quieting your soul and mind sounds so simple, but it was something I had to work up to. I started practicing with five minutes of quiet and stillness and have worked up to 25 minutes. It has been a gift to learn how to quiet myself and learn to control my own mind. I am finding more peace in my day. And, when life feels rushed or throws me a curve ball, the practice has helped me settle and feel at peace.
Just remaining quietly in the presence of God, listening to Him, being attentive to Him, requires a lot of courage and know-how. ~Thomas Merton
This quote of Merton’s has always been a favorite of mine, but recently I have seen it differently. I am seeing how some of the interior work of the soul is work. It takes courage and curiosity to look inward. It requires some effort and a lot of gentlenesses to teach your mind to quiet and only listen to what is true, pure, and lovely. It requires boldness and grace to allow God to show you who you really are. It is work. And it is a work I hope I never retire from.
Do you have a daily practice? I would love to hear what you do to take care of your beautiful soul.