Finding early morning soul space

Dawn over Wetlands

I sit on the bench. In the quiet I watch the sun rise and listen to the birds singing and calling to one another. There are few people around at that hour, but the wetlands are prolific with all kinds of bird life.

What a glorious morning, and I have nowhere else to be, no need to rush. I want to sit and soak it all in, to breathe and be present in this moment.

But there is also a little voice urging me to get up, get moving, and do something more productive.

I’m restless.

It’s not easy to stop, to be still, to be present, to listen.

I know this is an invitation to be with the Lord, to sit with him, watch with him. Not worrying about a prayer list, not worrying about whether he will speak to me. But just to be. To open my eyes, my ears and my heart to the beauty around me, allow it to inspire wonder and worship.

But it’s still a struggle to stay on that bench, not to get up and walk away.

On Purple Pond

A week later and I am back at the wetlands, sitting on the same bench. Another early morning. The fairy wrens are playing chasy, looping in circles, skimming low over the ground, alighting on reed stems before hopping from one to the next. Light glitters on the rippling water. The sun is a glowing orb rising from behind the hill.


And this time – this time is different. This time I’m not restless. This time, my soul is still, and I am grateful for the beauty of this morning, for this gift of whitespace, this gift of companionship, for this moment of intimacy.

In this moment I am content, grateful for this life.

I have stilled and quieted my soul. And I breathe life again.

But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. ~ Psalm 131:2

In the Stillness

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honoured by every nation. I will be honoured throughout the world.” Psalm 46:10

You can be standing perfectly still, but inside you’re a ball of turmoil, or filled with rising anxiety or impatience.

If you’ve ever played a game of statues, you know that the harder you try not to move, the more your body desperately wants to do exactly that. And the longer your body stays still, the more your muscles yell in protest. Our bodies are designed to move.

So it seems an impossible ask to be still long enough to hear God’s whisper, to know his presence, to know that he is God.

But being still before God is not so much about being physically still (although that may be helpful), but about cultivating an inner stillness. A stillness that allows me to be present to God, to be aware of what he is doing, to listen to what he is saying.

I read once that Jesus has a ‘leisured heart.’ I’ve always liked that phrase – a leisured heart. It speaks to me of someone who is in no hurry, someone who is at peace with himself and his circumstances, someone who is fully present to the moment, someone who has cultivated an inner stillness.

Only someone like that would be able to sleep in a fishing boat through the middle of a storm, as it fills with waters and looks like sinking.

Only someone like that would be able to walk on water while the wind and waves whipped up around him.


This inner stillness is not dependent on outer circumstances.

When I am rushing, when I feel the pressure of competing priorities rising, when I’m not sure what to do first, when circumstances threaten to overwhelm, there is an invitation to be still, to acknowledge the Lord’s presence, his love, grace and wisdom, and to listen.

To listen for his still, small voice – his gentle whisper. To honour him.

Circumstances may not change, but my heart will.


Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev /