When I was a child we were always made to say our prayers at night, just before going to bed. It seemed perfectly normal back then – a plea for protection against the many unseen evils of the night. If there was a God, there was no better time for His presence than as defensive coordinator in a scrimmage of monsters and demons and shadows that come to life.
Now, of course, those childhood prayers seem backwards, counterproductive – a futile life insurance policy that only reinforced a child’s fear of the night.
These days I prefer to offer my adulation and thanks while the coffee is brewing.
We use a French press for making coffee in the morning. The process is straightforward: boil water; grind beans; fill press up with hot water; stir; wait 4 minutes, then press and serve with warm milk.
In those 4 minutes I do a series of simple stretches and say my morning prayers. First I exhale deeply to flush the toxins leftover from my journey through the bumpy nightscape of perilous dreams. The purging of bad air is followed by an expression of gratitude: for the opportunity of a day and the good things I’ve got. Then a personal exhortation to utilize the day in a way that is meaningful, healthy and beneficial.
Unfortunately one has to pay the rent, so meaning, health and benefit are all relative. (I haven’t figured out how to make a living doing what I love, so instead I make a living doing what I’m capable of. Writing gets squeezed in where it can – always the middle child, yearning for attention..)
This 4 minute meditation came about by accident: I decided one day while the coffee was steeping and the milk was warming on the stove that 4 minutes wasn’t enough time to do much of anything work-wise or writing-wise. It was, however, ample time to transition into the day. And instead of relying on some outside force to keep me from being eaten by monsters after it was already too late, my grown-up prayers give me the latitude and encouragement to pick my battles and make my own choices – in other words, to take care of myself.