I pad down the hall, shuffle over to the pot and pour. Sweet glory. Black deliciousness. Metal clinks against hardened clay as I stir in the milk and agave. This may be my single favorite moment of the day. Quiet house. Dark morning.

I settle down into the chair. Turn palms up and open. Whisper a quick prayer. Fingers begin tapping–at first out of habit and sheer determination–but, soon, cobwebs clear and my mind shifts into gear. My soul casts off heavy blankets as it steps out of the tangle of apathy, indifference, and just plain lack of focus.

Awakening one’s soul is a choice. Don’t be fooled. Obstacles abound and Overfilled Schedule threatens to pin us to the bed shoving us under the suffocating weight of his buddy The Hum-drum. The path of least resistance is what’s easiest. Plug on, do the chores, sign the papers, pay the bills.

But is it the way of death to stop there? I need fresh breath, a wide horizon, a reason to hope and dream and dare to do life differently than sleepwalk through my days.

I hear Jon (my husband and an architect of sorts) talk about something he thinks is crucial: negative space. To my understanding, it’s the white space within the drawing. The place where your eyes get a break. Sure, it needs structure and function but, without empty space, the finished image would be overwhelming. Suffocating even.

Negative space is an invaluable part of design.

What if it’s like that with our days too? What if, given the choice, our souls would prefer to hide  in bed than continue this path of overstimulation? When a soul isn’t allowed space to stretch its arms, yawn its good morning, rest even though its awake, does it choose to escape back into sleep instead?

What if it’s the negative space that helps us awaken?

I’m not talking about a New-Agey soul-awakening with a self-focus and a me-victory at the finish line, but the kind that awakens you to God’s Spirit. Imagine the place you last felt Him near. Were you doing something which, if you go too long without, you don’t feel quite like yourself?

Could it be singing hymns, writing poems, bike-riding, gardening? Painting, dancing, teaching, praying? Or may be your soul is coaxed out of warm woolen covers when you’re in an inspired space? Perhaps it’s rearranging the living room furniture for the third time this month that does the trick for you.

Chances are, what wakes you up has something to do with the art you make. It’s possible you already do it but hadn’t fully realized the importance of it.

For me, it’s a discipline to sit down to write and do the work of thinking. Worth the sacrifice, though, if it helps me wake up. Otherwise, I’m liable to spend my days working but distracted. Interacting but elsewhere.

And The List that taunts menacingly and The Calendar that stares loudly? May be they’re not the enemies I’d pegged them for. May be I need to make love with them and make them work for me. Schedule rest. Appoint time for dreaming, writing, praying and hoping.

May be rest isn’t so much about stopping all activity as it is about doing something that helps us breathe. When I write I feel my soul take in fresh air. My wings spread. Suddenly, these four walls don’t feel so cramped. My quarters invite possibility. Soon I may take flight.

There’s a difference between frequent rests and permanent sleep and I wanna live the difference. But make no mistake. These moments are stolen from otherwise occupied ones and, when all’s said and done, it begins with a choice.

I pad down the hall, shuffle over to the pot and pour…

But that's enough about me…what about you?

Practically speaking, what inspires you and helps you awaken to God's presence?

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  • Teresa Richmond

    Donald Miller has a new tool out that I am falling in love with…even though I’m not very good at using it yet. Instead of a “calendar” (think: the 9000 things I MUST do TODAY or the world will stop spinning), it is a daily schedule that seeks to manage energy rather than time. Hence, your day is planned with up to three Projects. It also includes: Things I get to Enjoy Today, Appointments, and a “To Do” list–b/c face it, we still have to pay the bills, clean the house, go to the grocery store. But my very FAVORITE part of the “Storyline Productivity Schedule” is this question, that you ask yourself BEFORE your day begins: If I Could Live Today Over Again I’d:___________? Isn’t that a great way to look at your day? Before I wreck this day burning time on FB, reading the news, checking e-mail (definitely a “to-do” but not a life ender!), let me picture instead how I will wish that I had spent my day…and build my day around that. It’s so brilliant, I wish I had thought of it.

    In the meantime, I will be (slightly) jealous of you…pouring that first cup of coffee, turning on your computer and welcoming the Lord into your writing life. For now, for this season, my day begins w/face to carpet whimpering out mediocre prayers and praying that the Spirit will translate them into what I really meant to say. For now, this moment spent reading your blog occupies a place on the: Things I get to Enjoy Today” list. And that is enough.

    • Samantha Livingston

      Love this idea/tool. Love Donald Miller. Don’t love the season you’re in and am sorry about it Theresa. Thanks for visiting.