With Thy look of love
Leave in me
grace and beauty.
St. John of the Cross
Translated by Edgar Allison Peers
I love rising early. The late-night noises and movements have faded. And, before life stirrings begin anew, there is a sense of an all-pervading calm. It feels like a prayerful pause when, if even momentarily, the quietude is all there is.
Within that moment of complete peacefulness, I both lose and gain a sense of beingness. Like the nighttime noises, all the normal sensations of age, health, gender, accomplishments, race, or even species are absent. Hankerings born of yesterday and expectations for tomorrow have disappeared. Instead, there is a calm expanse that feels infinitely abundant in pure grace and love.
As if an expression of the tranquility, bird sounds begin to fill the air. Rather than ending the calmness, their voices seem to amplify it with effusive, melodic beauty. Their song gives way to the first rays of morning light, which in turn magnifies the awareness of a peaceful, loving presence.
The calm of the early morning is true benevolence. Saints, prophets, sages and indigenous people are intimately connected with its abiding presence. it is generally less perceptible for the everyday person. But, luckily the natural graciousness of early morning gently and lovingly envelopes the earth and all beings – human and non-human, animate and seemingly inanimate.
Such endless benevolence is free of selfishness, judgment, or duty. It is not transactional or laden with an anticipation of reciprocity. Rather than being a single act, it is universal and freely supportive of all. It melts boundaries between the outer and inner and erases the illusion of separateness. Even when ignored or overlooked, it is untouched by sorrow or dismay. Instead, it peacefully and lovingly remains a source of courage to boldly arise into a new day.
This practice supports awareness of the benevolence of peacefulness
- Find a quiet place where you can be free of human-made sensory inputs for the next ten minutes or so. Silence the digital device you are using to read through this practice. Remove any other devices other than the one you are using, including smart watches, computers, earphones, stereo speakers.
- Standing, gently pat one foot on the ground beneath you. Then, the other foot. As you do this, invite an awareness of the earth, offering you safety and solid support in this moment.
- If you are feeling a bit dull or agitated, take a few moments to shake out your limbs. Shake one at a time, i.e., right arm then left arm, right leg then left leg. If it feels comfortable, fluidly move in any way you feel inspired, e.g., dance to imaginary music.
- Find a comfortable seated position. If you are on a bench or a chair, allow the soles of your feet to rest on the ground beneath you. Wherever you are, invite a remembrance of the earth solidly supporting you in this moment.
- Slowly, reach your arms to the sides, palms upward with fingers relaxed. Slowly, roll your upper arms back until you have the sense your upper chest and face rise slightly upward toward the sky. Allow a gentle inhalation, and perhaps a feeling of a soft opening across your facial muscles, throat, and heart center. Invite an awareness of the sky and how it lovingly and peacefully holds all life near and beyond.
- Even if temporarily, imagine the heavens are filling your hands, eyes, cheeks, mouth, throat, and heart center with infinite peacefulness. Pause, allowing yourself to be bathed in infinite grace of quietude.
- Then, slowly bend your elbows and place your hands on the top of your head. Invite your temples and crown of your head to relax. Imagine the entire inner space of your skull – top, back, sides, and front – is filled with the grace of peaceful contentment, even if temporarily.
- Stay here as long as it feels comfortable for you supported by your natural breath. Give yourself permission to go at your own pace free of a sense of judgment, competition, comparison, or rushing – remembering the earth is supporting you and infinite benevolence is enfolding you. Continue with this sense of acceptance and kindness toward yourself.
- Allow your palms to rest on your thighs. Imagine your legs and feet releasing into the earthly support, and are infused with peacefulness.
- Then, allow your palms to rest on your belly. Imagine the entire inner space of your belly – back, sides, and front – is filled with the grace of peaceful contentment, even if temporarily.
- Allow your palms to rest on your heart center in any way that is comfortable – e.g., one hand one top of the other, palms together. Imagine the entire inner space of your shoulders and upper chest – top, back, sides, and front – are filled with the grace of peaceful contentment, even if temporarily.
- With your hands still over your heart center, allow this feeling to seep deeply into the core of your being. Bow your head slightly and again invite a release of any tension in your eyes and face. Stay as long as you are comfortable.
- If you have a particular faith, you might wish to bring in a feeling of deep surrender into the grace of the ever-present peacefulness.
Transition Back into Your Day—
- Slowly lift your chin to a neutral level. If you had your eyes closed, slowly open them. Taking your time, look around the area where you are – perhaps noticing the spaciousness between the objects and overhead.
- Sit quietly for a few moments.
- When you are ready, transition back into your day.
This poem appears in Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems, page 51, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library. Photo by Sebastian Scheuer on Unsplash. HEARTH is posted each new and full moon. KateVogt©2022.
Please consider further poetic inspiration from my books:
Our Inherited Wisdom: 54 Inspirations from Nature and Poetry
Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems
Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems