I'm not the world's best sleeper, so I often pray for the Lord to give me, His beloved, sleep (Psalm 127), and for help to lie down in peace and sleep, for the Lord alone makes me dwell in safety (Psalm 4). Lately, I've been sleeping better than I have in a long time and I'm grateful. I realize we can function on less sleep than we desire, but I am truly a different, better person when I sleep well. My behavior is also more tolerable when there is sunshine — my psyche can only take gray for so long.
I should also confess that most mornings I'm grumpy, hoping that no conversation will be necessary. I may have peace in my soul and a faithful expectation for the day, but pre-coffee I can't quite verbalize such optimism. It's like the virtues don't have a clear path through all the neurons to reach my lips. Today was different. I had a good night's sleep. I didn't even stir when my husband left for his early morning drum gig. I woke up at 8:00 am, not 9:30 or 10:00 as my tired body wants to do lately — I'm doing a cleanse to rid myself of fungal toxins and man, cleansing is tiresome, bodily work. This morning I actually opened my eyes and smiled for God's sake. I spied blue sky through a window and smiled again. Thanksgiving came out of my mouth. I mean, this was a miraculous, holy moment.
I fed the cats then settled into the armchair with a gloriously large mug of chicory coffee and Psalm 23. I remembered some beautiful words that my friend Marc Omar shared on Facebook:
Old folks are aware and emotionally connected to the reality that Goodness and Mercy shall follow them all the days of our lives if we are in Christ. Psalm 23 resonates deeply with me — The Good Shepherd loves me and He has assigned Goodness and Mercy to follow me. I tried to ditch them and wallow in self-pity or fear but they are obstinate. Goodness and Mercy are glued to me like chewing gum on hair.
I read through Psalm 23 again, slowly. I love verse 5: You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. I often think of that cup brimming over when I see the Big Dipper in the night sky.
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Sunlight flooded through our windows. I smelled traces of myrrh that my husband and I burned last night to celebrate the season of Epiphany. I picked up a favorite book of mine, A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie, and turned to "Seventh Day — Morning." My heart skipped a beat with joy as I prayed:
O LORD and Maker of all things, from whose creative power the first light came forth, who didst look upon the world's first morning and see that it was good, I praise Thee for this light that now streams through my windows to rouse me to the life of another day.
I praise Thee for the life that stirs within me:
I praise Thee for the bright and beautiful world into which I go:
I praise Thee for the earth and sea and sky, for scudding cloud and singing bird:
I praise Thee for the work Thou has given me to fill my leisure hours:
I praise Thee for my friends:
I praise Thee for music and books and good company and all pure pleasures.
O Thou who Thyself art everlasting Mercy, give me a tender heart today towards all those to whom the morning light brings less joy than it brings me:
Those in whom the pulse of life grows weak:
Those in who must lie abed through all the sunny hours:
The blind, who are shut off from the light of day:
The overworked, who have no joy of labour:
The bereaved, whose hearts and homes are desolate:
And grant Thy mercy on them all.
O Light that never fades, as the light of day now streams through these windows and floods this room, so let me open to Thee the windows of my heart, that all my life may be filled by the radiance of Thy presence. Let no corner of my being be unillumined by the light of Thy countenance. Let there be nothing within me to darken the brightness of the day. Let the Spirit of Him whose life was the light of men rule within my heart till eventide. Amen.
I'm telling you, all of Baillie's prayers are golden. Y'all, enjoy this week — every day, everywhere you go, goodness and mercy will chase you. He will catch you and never let you go.