For quite some time, I’ve developed a ritual of daily prayer. The woods have become my alter and in a hidden space I say prayers and sing hymns. My dog, Janie, looks after me and reminds me when it’s time to head back. After my time outdoors I find quiet solitude in the only restful place in a family of 7—the bathroom. I light a candle. I read my prayer book, study, and reflect on the psalms. I journal thoughts and ideas and plan my day. This routine has become the single most important thing I’ve done for my relationships, health, and work.
This time spent in silence allows me to be filled with the holy spirit in a powerful way. It’s when I’m powered by the spirit that I can dig into my inner wisdom and be lead towards the things that really need to be done. It allows me to set aside those things that will not serve me or others. It keeps me from putting off things that could easily be overlooked. The most meaningful things like preparing meals for my family, spending one on one time with my children, reaching out to someone who is lonely, writing that story that’s been on my heart.
Time spent in silence is new to me and it didn’t come easily. In fact, it was in the depths of despair that I finally gave into the desire to meet God right there in the center of myself. It has taken practice to continue to do so, but over time, it’s gotten easier, more natural, and on days when it doesn’t happen I can really tell a difference in my attitude and energy level.
Another benefit of this time spent in silence every day has been a special knowing when things don’t feel right. My nervous system now speaks to me in new ways. There’s this deep, inner knowing that some things just don’t feel right during this season of life. A devoted prayer life reminds me that each and every day is a gift and that we are responsible for doing good with it. I recently heard that the reason birds sing in the morning is so that they can tell their mate, “I’m here. I survived the night.” My morning prayer time becomes my song. A song of life that moves me towards a light that is shared with my husband, my family, my friends and the people we serve.
This is a portrait of Michelle Howell, a hardworking farmwife, mother of five, author, and advocate. On the left side of the bust you can read text from the poem “Anyway” that was on a wall of Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta, India. “If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.” “The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.”
Leslie Nichols, Artist