I was on a conference call this week when someone mentioned casually that the first 45 minutes of his day are spent drinking coffee and staring out the window. Staring out the window.... just the idea of that sounded delicious to me!
I love to just stare; to linger in time, not pushing my thoughts around in any productive direction but simply paying attention, gentle attention, to the world around me.That image helped me identify another good question that can provide rich spiritual insight:
"Where do your thoughts go when you let them go?"
That's what I do when I sip coffee and stare out the window. I allow my mind the freedom to be drawn to the yearnings of my soul--to the places of subconscious thought and desire. Take for instance this morning: I have been sitting in my den looking out the window that faces east, observing the morning light as it "pinkens" (I just made that word up) over the houses in my view.
As I sat leisurely, my mind was able to go where it felt like going, I began to think about my love of nature; about experiences I've had in nature when God's presence enveloped me in and through the beauty that surrounded me. My thoughts confirmed a need and hunger within me for time with God in the woods.
Since we've moved into the city, I've become aware that I don't have as many experiences, even driving, where I get to "see" a landscape that fills up my senses and soul. I need that. It's one of my most meaningful and nourishing spiritual practices. In fact, I feel a little spiritually peaked because of my lack of connection with God in nature.
So by allowing my thoughts, as I sipped coffee and looked out the window, to enter the deeper contours of my soul, I became aware of a spiritual longing for God through the experience of nature. I let my soul speak. And now I am eager to act on it.
Where do your thoughts go when you let them go?
This question is helpful when we are in a state of rest; when we are looking out a window relaxing and being. But it can also be an insightful question when we are anxious and hurried. If we pay attention to where our thoughts naturally go when left unattended, we can gain insight into our emotional and spiritual state. That realization allows us to pray more candidly and move toward experiences that nourish our relationship with God.
So, why don't you try it today or tomorrow: Let your thoughts go where they want to go and see where they lead. See what they tell you about the condition of your soul and your spiritual longings.