This morning, early before anyone else was awake, I did something that has become a habit over the past year. After letting the dogs out, and then back in, and giving them food along with the cat, I walked down to a small sofa I have in my basement.
I sat down and once again did a set spiritual practice, as I reported back in May.
Every morning I read spiritual literature, pray a set prayer, and meditate. I end by writing a letter to God in a little journal I have.
There’s nothing special about the letter. I could just as easily call it a “journal entry,” or I could say I “write in my diary.” The approach I use, that works for me, is a letter to a higher power.
I don’t have a specific format for the letter. It changes from time to time, depending on what is on my mind. Sometimes I have shortcomings or transgressions from the day before to confess and address. Sometimes I have anxieties about what is to come, or the well being of a family member. Sometimes I am angry or hurt, and I need to express it. Sometimes I am ecstatically grateful for the gifts that have been showered on me.
No matter. It all goes in the letter. I typically close my missive by writing this: “God, grant me knowledge of your will for me, and the willingness and power to carry it out.”
What the letter contains is unimportant. What matters is that I have written it. I only allow myself to write once I have done the other things (reading, prayer, meditation). In that way, the written letter becomes tangible proof that I have engaged in the practice I intend.
Like many people, I am easily distracted. I make resolutions, or “set intentions,” only to abandon them when something more interesting comes along. With spiritual practices this has been the pattern. I tell myself I will meditate more, or pray more. And I do for a week or so . . . then one day I’m in a hurry, or oversleep a bit. And, poof, it’s gone. The resolve evaporates like fog under the sunlight.
The letter has worked for me where willpower and intention has not. I think about why, and it is a silly thing. I have become superstitious about the letter.
Some time ago I began to write down the consecutive number of each entry. Each day it goes up by one. I have got it in my head that if I miss a day, something dreadful will happen.
Intellectually, I know that’s not true but I don’t let that stop me. I revel in this superstition, because it has given me resolve where all my good intentions have failed.
This morning, I wrote my 365th consecutive entry. One full year.
What can I say has been the result? I don’t have anything specific to point to. I have had the usual ups and downs throughout the year, and I have responded in the ways we all seem to — never as well as I might hope, but I do the best I can.
The best, most helpful news I can give is that praying and meditating every morning for a year has allowed this practice to become part of my identity. I am someone who prays and meditates. Do I do it well? No. But I do it.
If I can do one year, I can do another. Maybe I will look back on decades of this practice in my final days.