A new day. A new gift to be opened. On awakening, the shape of the hours floods my mind--the tasks to be done and the people to meet. However, the day's actual content is always something of a surprise: joys, frustrations, and disappointments creep in at unexpected points. The day does not always meet my needs, desires or expectations.
On waking, rather than being an unwilling or passive recipient of the day, I use two memorized items as a reminder of this gift. The first is from Psalm 118.
This is the day which the Lord has made
Let [me] rejoice and be glad in it.
The second is a poem from the ancient Sanskrit (c. 1200 B.C.).
Listen to the Exhortation of the dawn!
Look to this Day!
For it is Life, the very life of life.
In its brief course lie all the
Verities and Varieties of your existence:
the bliss of growth,
the glory of action,
the splendor of beauty.
For yesterday is only a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision:
But today well lived makes
Every yesterday a dream of happiness,
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day!
Such is the Salutation of the dawn!
With several deep breaths and this unhurried and focused centering on these items, I consciously receive the special gift of a new day and carry with me the notes of gladness and exhortation turning to salutation.
Living in another country for five years made me realize that different attitudes toward time and its use are deeply embedded in each culture. For example, guilt feelings quickly unsettle me if I am "not on time" for an appointment or if I "waste time." I fidget when worship does not end "on time." I have found, though, that my fretful frown does not lead to a timely benediction. I have learned that shared friendship, love and community need relaxed and unstructured time for a common life. The Psalmist and the unknown poet in the Sanskrit keep my cultural impatience and attachment to a schedule in some balance with the disposition of my heart.
Unlike some, I never have found, the daily devotional booklet with its scripture passage, brief thought for the day and sentence prayer useful or helpful. However, the mental image of opening the day as a gift and the repetitive use of two passages (I toss in other items, at times, as well) helps me resist some inhumane rhythms, a sense of boredom and teeth-gnashing irritation.
The gift of each new day that is opened is special whether I am conscious of it or not, but, conscious of the gift, I am able to keep alive, for myself, the "dream of happiness' and the "vision of hope."
--Robert H. Tucker
15 November 1999
© Robert H. Tucker, 1999.
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