morning - Related Content

Following the light

Thursday, November 10th 2016 3:10 pm
Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA


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This week has brought opportunity for morning risers to awaken to a new pattern of light. The sun has begun (on its best days) to ascend earlier and rouse reluctant sleepers with sunbeams pushing through our bedroom curtains.

Many of us, though, won’t count such a blessing until it’s overshadowed by the dark of early winter mornings. Submerged into grayness our hearts will pine for what we feel we have lost. We may already hear complaints of the dark to come even when the sun is still shining.

Being in the present moment—those we appreciate and those we don’t—is a valuable tool in discernment. Such presence of thought can help you identify enjoyment and displeasure; allow you to tap into your natural inclinations; enlighten you and challenge you and help guide you as you gradually move through the light and the dark to tomorrow.

Very simply, it opens you up to examination of conscience: a method many Catholics are first taught when preparing for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (a prayerful practice of looking at the life choices you make in regards to sin). St. Ignatius of Loyola created an in-depth tool for such discernment—the Examen—which revolves around daily reflection.

For me the Examen works best in written form, when it’s tactile. Identifying what’s in your head and putting it to paper can allow for deeper contemplation of the themes you notice reoccurring daily, weekly or monthly. In discernment, entering into the method and routine of the Examen can bring clarity to questions that have been circling in your mind. Writing can make uncertainty real, but can also tell what is true for you. Give yourself time to sit in prayer with your thoughts; allowing curiosity, temporarily suspending judgment. Look where you're leaning—it will help you gravitate toward decision.  

Are you willing to explore a new way of assessing your experience?

What will such a daily practice as the Examen require of you?

To learn more about the Examen, including a five-step version for daily practice, visit

What It Sounds Like Here

Monday, August 1st 2022 2:30 pm

Someone sent me a message with a request. It's interesting how a person can get used to things and stop noticing them, and I realized that was happening a little bit here now that I have been in Bolivia for about 7 months.

Request: I am curious in your new environment what sounds you have heard when falling asleep and when waking up.

I haven't thought about the sounds here in a while. When I first arrived I was astounded by the flocks of parrots flying over and the birdsong during our prayers. Time has passed here and I realize that just like in the United States, the different seasons mark changes in bird behavior too. I was curious if I had stopped noticing the sounds, or if they are indeed different.

We are in the middle of winter here right now. It's very different here in a tropical environment than it is back in the northern part of the United States! Highs are in the mid to upper 90's here in winter, with a rare exception of a cold day in the 50s or 60s. Lows overnight are normally in the 60s. What marks the season change here is the lack of rain. It is quite dry and it only rains once every two or three weeks. The sun can feel especially hot on these days as clouds are about as rare as the rain. Dirt and dust blow through the streets with no moisture to weigh it down.

Back to the request!

In the evenings, most times there is not much to hear except motorcycles and dogs barking. Although it can be a little loud because we are right next to the center of the city, the plaza, I have gotten used to it and it doesn't keep me awake. It is helpful that most evenings I am very tired! I rarely have trouble falling asleep.

Many weekends and during festivals, music can be heard. I am not sure where it comes from, and I suspect it travels to my ears from different places. What is interesting is how the music goes all night long, normally finishing (but not always!) as I get up for prayer. The sisters tell me that there is lots of dancing and festivities at these times.

In the mornings, it is very different. Although there is traffic and dogs, there is a cacophony of the world waking up. Even in the winter, there is still much to hear. The flocks of parrots aren't chattering overhead, but the morning is still alive with sound.

I spent a Sunday morning listening to the sounds before prayer. It was a joy to be able to take the time to notice these things. It felt like a blessing!

Sounds from home...
pigeons, sparrows, crickets and a lovely little house wren.

Sounds of civilization...
motorcycles and traffic, dogs barking and legions of roosters crowing.

Sounds specifically here...
crested caracaras (photo), purplish jays, one lone macaw, a few guira cuckoos and a lovely melodious blackbird.

I realize all the "here" sounds are birds. I was happy to realize I have come to know the sounds of the birds in Ascencion like the ones in the midwest. What a gift! And what a gift to be asked about sounds. Thank you!

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