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Our Mantras, Prayers, and Practices

Most mornings when I wake up, it’s still dark. Even so, I turn toward the window I can’t quite make out and say, “Thank you for awakening me to a new day.” It’s something I started doing years ago as a way of giving the Holy One gratitude for—as my siblings of faith in the Black Church often say—giving me another day. But over time that morning mantra has evolved into as much of an outward expression of thanks as it is an inward summons for me to rise and meet the new day, whether the sun’s up or not. It’s as if that inward call to get up has become my soul’s response to God’s steadfast love and grace carrying me through the night, and being right there with me when I woke up.

Then we take the dog for a walk and watch the sun burst in on the morning with its pink and orange demand to look at it or miss out on quintessential beauty. If the devil is in the details, God is in the sunrise. But then I remember that the psalmist identifies the Holy One as a Shepherd walking with us through every peak and pitfall, and I know that God is not just in that far off horizon, but also moving alongside me every step of the way from last night’s darkness to this morning’s new light.

The belief that God is present in all things can be called omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence or pantheism. I interpret it as something deeper than doctrine, though. That innermost feeling that God is with me—with you and me and all of Creation—whether we are in the dark or the light, gives me a liberated determination to not just face each new day, but to embrace it wholeheartedly, blessings and challenges and all. That liberation comes from knowing that I am never alone, that “thou art with me” as the psalmist testifies, and that the merciful, gracious companionship freely given to me—to you and me and all of Creation—is given so that fear of separation from love would never get the best of us.

What mantras, prayers, or practices do you have to start the day? How do those sayings and actions express your faith? How do they shape your faith? How do they change you?

Prayer: Holy Creator of all good things, thank you for awakening me to a new day. Now, by the gift of your companionship and solidarity, lift my spirit to rise and meet everything that the hours ahead might bring. And in each of those hours, help me to remember that you are always with me, so that I would not stray from your goodness, and that I would love you, myself, and my neighbor as a reflection of the same steadfastness with which you love me. Amen.


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