Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will worry about its own things.
Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:34
Each day holds joy that will escape you if you are preoccupied with tomorrow or even an imagined tomorrow that may never come.
In the daytime, I can usually manage. But the middle of the night is a different story. Why do things– everyday conversations, an upcoming picnic, a job interview, my family troubles, the dog’s bad leg — become demons in the middle of the night? The conversation is possessed with hidden agendas; I rethink my answer to every interview question; the dog dies and family troubles are born anew, and no one brought charcoal for the cookout. Irrational thoughts or worries? And they aren’t the day’s troubles, they are between the days.
One thing I am learning is that the more I practice centering my thoughts during the daytime, the easier this is to do at night.
For several months I have been practicing centering prayer. And yes, there is an app for that, that actually has been very helpful. One of the encouragements on the app says “to persevere in contemplative practice without worrying about where we are on the journey.” I need to know that.
For this prayer choose a word or phrase to evoke God’s presence and action within and meditate on this word. Just like in the night, it is difficult to focus my thoughts on one word or phrase for even a few minutes. Guidelines for centering prayer remind me that when other thoughts come, similar to those errant intruders in the middle of the night, to return “ever so gently” to the sacred word or phrase.
I don’t practice centering prayer in the night, it is for the day, but the joy of this sustaining presence disciplines my memory. In the nighttime, when my own demons race around, to focus on a word or phrase, an image, or even the steadiness of my own nourishing breath helps me surrender to rest and let tomorrow’s troubles go.