I awaken and shuffle through my dwelling, preoccupied with thoughts of woe. Self-pity, an anchor I drag through the rooms.
I feel assailed by my troubles. Am I?
Lord, you are the rescuer, the shepherd, the teacher, the friend. O how I need all of you on this gray morning.
My thoughts are deeds.
I stray. This worry and self-absorption cut me away from you. My fear is rebellion and begets indolence.
Let this self-pity pass away from me, Lord.
I see this pathway only until the first turning, then it disappears into dark mist. How shall I prepare myself, Lord, for what I may find? Ought I carry more provisions? Shed extra weight? Dress for cold?
I delay my steps, yet the turning is always ahead. When I meet it, finally, there appears another, equally dark.
Let me become grateful, Lord, for the worries these upcoming encounters place in me today. They sharpen my mind, add care to my steps, increase my reliance on you. They turn my thoughts away from vanity and direct me toward greater faith and humility.
Let me give thanks for my fear of what has not yet come to pass.
Have I seen others’ ambitions result in joy? Why, then, do I run after these banners?
Turn my head away from accomplishment, Lord, and let me renew my simple labors. Let me brush the debris from others’ pathways, that they may walk toward you more easily.
Let me be a custodian.
In my heart, a twisting knot of worry is releasing. Lord, I breathe out, and out. Let my tongue fall from the roof of my mouth, let my belly expand.
This stack of chores is just the list that makes up a simple day. My small and unseen garden needs weeding, watering, tending. No foreman waits to direct me and at dusk there will be no inspection.
The dawn comes like a train. Let me sit patiently on the platform. I cannot will it faster nor slower.
I am so inconstant. I despair one moment, laugh the next. Anger besets me, then fear, then joy. All day, blown like a dry leaf.
I hope for rescue, but this itself is illusory. They who hope carry with them the seeds of doubt. When I hope, it is because I worry that what I hope for may not arrive. Hope leaves me unsatisfied.
Yet faith is confident. Faith strides through the garden, secure that the path has a destination. Faith brings me equanimity in this moment, no matter its characteristics.
Lord, grant me faith. Let me be willing to abandon hope.
Let me build this day as a gift for you, moment by small moment. No grand effort is asked of me. Let me bring my most meticulous care instead.
This gift, lovingly wrapped, I will present to you in a ceremony at day’s end. I am a child offering a small and inconsequential object to their parent. So proud am I of this work. So small and clumsy it is.
You will smile at me, and love me. I will think it has to do with something I have done, yet you loved me long before I even sensed you.
Who receives this gift? What is it? Is it the object, the effort, the intention, the love?
I am the bewildered one, Lord, building clocks and clipping bonsai bushes.
Open my eyes, dear Lord: the gift is for me. You are making it.
A child, I have no idea what I need. I want stimulation when I need rest. I want idle time when I need to learn labor.
I struggle against your lessons – the poor student shoving aside the tutor.
Let me learn today, Lord.
I distract myself, especially at times of great industry. My labors move in so many directions, under the lash of mania, jumping from fence post to fence post.
Lord, let me not take hundreds of chaotic steps, but walk instead one path.
Let me sustain attention and effort on just a few things today.
Let me see myself today, Lord, without illusion nor artifice.
Let me see I am neither exalted nor despised. Neither king nor beggar.
I stand in the bright sun as one of many, unremarkable, and yet you still love me. Let me try to deserve this.