Poem for a Sunday Morning

Sunday Morning Moments
{Patricia Gale}

Gently my eyes open and I whispered
Thank you for I can see

My feet moving slowly one in front of the other
Though my body stiff from the labor of work
I replied… thank you for your mercy

My mind recoiling the tasks that require my attention
My heart seems to fill with the beauty of the day
And I praise you for what you have given me

The house is silent
No words are heard
Little feet that once sounded like an army
Now long gone and marching to independence and their own battles
I wipe a crystal tear and thank you for the love you placed within my life

In the coolness of an autumn’s morn
I sit a listen to the Sunday morning symphony
A gift from You created by your loving hands
I hear a soft gentle voice…” to everything there is a season and by My grace there is a reason”
Admiration and thankfulness fill my soul
My lips quiver with soft words, I am unworthy, but yet You love me
Thank you Father for this day


 

Commencement

 

To honor the accomplishment of my son’s high school commencement today here’s a piece I wrote a few years back. Congratulations, Duncan!

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Here at the end of the school year I’ve been thinking about what I would say to a class of graduating seniors to mark their commencement. There’s nothing here you don’t already know. The question is, for all of us, at what point does the reminding help us finally decide to take action. At what point do we say, yes, there is another way?

Social media is for sharing, not comparing. We are the most connected we’ve ever been and it’s an extraordinary thing. It’s also a trap that can put you into a “downward spiral” (see “The Art of Possibility”) really fast if you aren’t careful. 

You are creative. Beautifully, richly creative. Saying you are not is a lie you tell to protect yourself from the fear of failure.

Everything you find lacking in someone else you find lacking in yourself. Be kind, starting with yourself.

Bullies and other junkie people are in pain which is why they take it out on you. Don’t give them the satisfaction. And, if you can, help them.

The kids who dress weird and are into art, music, tech and other creative pursuits will likely be your boss someday.

Learning is the only path through change. Change will never stop so learning can’t either. Once you finish all of the academic stuff, turn that attention on yourself. Be your own best subject.

There’s no such thing as “ready.” If you’re ever “ready” you’ve waited too long.

If the path ahead of you is clear, you are probably on someone else’s path. Yours is the tough one and even though you will be tempted many times to give it up for some “greener grass,” stay on it and make the most of it.

The vast majority of the world’s population is worse off than you in ways that are sometimes hard to believe. Astonishingly those same underprivileged, underfunded and under appreciated people tend to have a perspective on what matters most that too often eludes the rest of us. 

The quality of your relationships determine the quality of your life. Be generous with those you care about. Love them well.

The world is not waiting to laugh at you when you mess up. Everyone else is too concerned about their own stuff. So, mess up often, learn from it and get better. Living intentionally is where the action is. 

If it can’t be done playfully it’s not worth doing. Find what you can play at and just keep playing.

DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.

That Time, Again

I’m a little over a month into this very specific morning ritual:

1. Wake up! (No email. Very important!)

2. Light a candle as a focal point for my experience.

3. Ten minutes of what I will loosely call “movement” – a series of Qigong exercises to wake up my body and brain.

4. Five minutes to read a daily meditation passage. (This is found on my phone – in my email inbox – so the potential for distraction is massive. Most days, I do OK but the overnight headlines, text messages or “alerts” can be tough to get by.)

5. Ten minutes of breathing meditation to reflect on the passage I just read.

6. Blow out the candle.

7. Pet the dog who has inevitably come over to hang out with me.

8. Pour first cup of coffee.

9. Sit down to write my daily blog post. Usually beginning with a review of photos to stimulate my thinking.

10. Pour second cup of coffee.

11. Pray for inspiration now that time is running short.

I am gratified to report that this routine has become exactly that, a routine. At home or on the road it is something I can replicate. It is reliable and meaningful, mainly I think because it works. It helps me start my day with the kind of intention and focus I want to have throughout the entire day. And when I am inevitably thrown off course during the day – either because my thinking gets polluted or my energy flags – I can call back to the memory of the immediate past and find consolation there for what I have already accomplished. I will readily admit, I have fallen back on that consolation many times.

What I began to notice this week, however, is what I call the “Groundhog Day” effect. Every morning, the same. It’s a little weird to wake up each day at precisely the same time knowing that I am about to do precisely the same thing in precisely the same way. Of course, the meditation I read is different each time and what I end up writing is different each time but the process itself, the same. Just like in the movie it feels both strange and unsettling and, in moments of revelation, deeply comforting. At its essence it means that I am here, again, with another chance to get it right.

Yes, that’s evaluative. Please don’t hear it as self-critical. There is a significant difference between the two. I am proud of myself for developing and sticking to this ritual. Because I am beginning to feel the very real benefits of doing so I am hungry to keep making more of it, to keep improving my attention so that I can create even more space in both my head and my heart for the opportunities, both human and otherwise, I will encounter throughout the day.

One last thought, and it is directly connected to item number one above. This all started in a decision I made last fall not to check my phone – email, texts, news, etc. – until I had started my day in a more “thoughtful” way. Since I use my phone as my alarm clock it was so seductive – once that device was in my hand – to lie there, half-awake scrolling through the overnight ephemera. Honestly, searching for some validating note of opportunity on which I could hang the purpose of my day. Tired of this habit I began to build a new one, creating a sequence of events that could ultimately provide a new, more powerful source of purpose.

Like everything else worthwhile in life, it started small – grounded in a simple and clear intention – and slowly became something I could build from and rely on. As I see it, as long as the “wake up” part keeps happening I have a responsibility to do my best with it. Right now, this is an essential part of bringing my “best” to life.

Tomorrow, again.