Do you want to know a secret? Some people sing in the shower—I “sorta” sing to the Lord while I do some simple wake-up exercises after I shower and before I dress for the day. I call them my “Spiritual Exercises.” They are my own stretching and bending routine to keep my ancient bones and muscles at least minimally limber. My routine only slightly resembles what my PT prescribed.
My performance may not be a very pretty sight, so it remains entirely private, although I face a huge picture window in my master bathroom where I “perform.” I named my home on a hill "Eagle Summit" since it overlooks a wooded valley, a stream and distant hills. Through that window, each season is spectacular in its variation of colors. No dwellings block my view nor am I exposed to human eyes.
I watch the sun rise, if I rise early enough. In summer the leaves of the tall, stately oak tree outside that window provide shade. I watch feathered creatures flit about doing their own exercise routine on the branches. They appear to be singing along with me. In winter bare branches, sometimes snow laden, give me an unobstructed contrasting panorama of God's creation.
Following the adage “If you don't move it, you lose it!” I used to rather rapidly reach and stretch and bend and swing and clap. As years pass, the pace has slowed. In my ninth decade of life I admit that my workout has become considerably abbreviated. I used to softly sing to the Lord an intimate medley of praise songs. Then, with diminishing breath from long-ago lung cancer surgery, I offered my cracking, aged voice to the Lord. More recently it became a breathy whisper. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” Now it has come to the point that I simply think the words—I lip-synch them.
I'll wager that's still okay with God, since only He can “hear” me as I think the words. “He is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” I believe He is pleased with whatever comes forth from my lips or my heart. It is a “joyful noise unto the Lord.” I'm thankful I'm still on my feet and able to do a few minutes of this routine. Because my balance is off at my age, I stay close to some place I could hold on to, if necessary. Accommodate is my calendar-challenged byword. I've had to cut my physical routine time quite short. Nevertheless, I try to daily go through it in rhythm with the words of the praise songs that follow:
I begin with the familiar “Morning has broken” tune but with my own words. I have always been deeply Trinitarian and direct my praises to the Godhead in that manner. “Morning has broken like the first morning; I have arisen praising the Lord: Praising the Father, praising the Son, and praising the Spirit, great Three in One.”
Then, “I love You Lord and I lift my voice to worship You, O my soul, rejoice! Take joy, my King, in what You hear, may it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear.”
I follow with a three-stanza song: “Father I adore You, lay my life before You, how I love You!” (Repeated to Jesus, then to the Spirit.)
After that, “When morning gilds the skies my heart awakening cries 'May Jesus Christ be praised!' Alike at work or prayer, to Jesus, I repair, 'May Jesus Christ be praised!'”
If I still have any stamina and breath, I continue, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, early in the morning my song shall rise to Thee; Holy, holy, holy merciful and mighty: God in three Persons, blessed Trinity.”
After that, “O worship the King, all glorious above, and gratefully sing His power and His love; my Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days, pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise.”
If I have any strength left, I conclude my morning praise looking out on God's creation wonderland singing “Fairest Lord Jesus [or in a newer version: Beautiful Savior] Ruler of all nature, O Thou of God and man the Son: Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor, Thou my soul's glory, joy, and crown.”
That's about all that my diminished lungs can muster! These are not “Ignatian Spiritual Exercises”—they are Leona's. They work for me as part of my “Morning Offering” of praise and surrender to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
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