From 2010 through 2016, I started every day at 0500 or sunrise – whichever occurred first – at the Redemptorist Renewal Center in Picture Rocks, Arizona. Those were special years. My first act of every day was to kneel silently before the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help illuminated in the winter months by a handful of flickering candles in the dark church. The act brought me great comfort to start my day
Since leaving Picture Rocks in the winter of 2016, I’ve not found a church that offers daily Mass much less the comfort I found at the Redemptorist Center in Picture Rocks. Since those magical days in the desert, I begin each day with three acts:
- I read the sunrise offering in The Vitruvian Man’s Book of Hours [which we published in 2021]
- I listen and meditate on the Irish Jesuit offering on the “Pray as You Go” website.
- I light a candle on the Gratefulness.org website and have recently begun to light an electric candle that offers calming, dancing light to my office in the dark hours of the early winter mornings.
Lighting candles has been a part of every spiritual culture since the dawn of time. Its enduring tradition validates the comfort the action brings to the millions who practice it every day. I am one of those millions and speak from experience.
Following those three actions, I prepare a cup of coffee and move outdoors and sit quietly on my front porch. As I wait for Mrs. tVM to join me with my neighbor and friend of 40 years and his dog, I quietly say my litany of prayers, many of which I learned as a young boy growing up in the Berkshire Hills.
Despite its challenges, life is good made all the better by a personal relationship with God.
I don’t remember hummingbirds growing up in Massachusetts. I first noticed them when we moved to Arizona in 1998. Our landscape in Eloy includes a pair of orange jubilee bushes that attract hummingbirds with their fiery blossoms. After a year, our landscape matures and more color attractive to the hummingbird erupts throughout the year.
In recent weeks as Mrs. tVM, my friend, and I share coffee, we’ve noticed a steady flow of hummingbird visitors. Somewhere, I read that these diminutive guests bode good luck. I want to think it is an Indian legend, but I’m not certain. Even so, I’ve come to wait for our little friends with the conviction that when they appear – like angels – they promise a good day. When I see them – and that has been daily for several weeks – I breathe a special prayer of thanks to God for presenting his messengers to us.
Signs abound in our natural world… in a clear night sky, in a morning sunrise, in a rambling thunderstorm, in a blooming flower… Be attentive to them. They can guide you to a productive path and give value to your life and those who share it with you.