UU Church Today, Spirituality & Theology, Practice & Voice, BeyondBelief

From the Road: Starting Well

As I begin my sabbatical I’m reminded how important it is to start well. A few years ago I noticed that before I even got myself out of bed, I was first reaching for my phone and checking email and social media. For a time it had become a habit. Then I realized it was not serving me. I was beginning my day with whatever other people happened to be thinking, doing or wanting.

Daily Readings

So I decided I would commit to beginning my day first by reading something inspiring and wise before anything else. I found that whatever moved me or challenged me in the reading reverberated throughout my day. If the reading said, “Pause and take a breath before responding to what someone says,” I found myself doing it. My day was greatly improved by the advice. If a reading suggested I “…begin and end each day by being grateful for something in your life,” I did. And it made quite a difference in my mood, mindset and relationships.

Healthy Habits

Another habit I had was to head immediately for the coffee pot. I love everything about coffee. But I decided I would begin each day by first drinking a glass of water. Coffee quickly followed, but I found I was less dehydrated through the day and I could tell I was beginning my day by doing something simple and healthy. Even if the glass of water has little physical effect on my body, the fact that I intentionally begin with something good for me, makes a positive impact on my psyche.

I saw a New Yorker cartoon in which a business man is telling his colleague during the workday, “I like to keep my coffee buzz going until the martini buzz kicks in.” I was never nearly that bad with a daily, end of the day, martini, but it was close enough of a gag-line to make me think twice about how I wanted to begin and end the day.

As time has gone on I’ve added other things to my morning routine. I don’t get to all of them everyday, but I always begin with an uplifting reading and a glass of water. At my best I also stretch, pray and mediate.

How do you begin each day? Do you let others (the news, whoever happens to email you or social media) influence what you think about and feel as you start your day?


If you don’t think it’s serving you, here are a few books and resources I really like. There are so many others including numerous apps and daily emails with inspiring quotes, poems, prayers and meditations. One thing is for sure, it matters how we start.

Daily Readings:

The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have by Mark Nepo

Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh by Thich Nhat Hanh

Daily Email:

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations
The theme this year (2022) is “Nothing Stands Alone.” What could happen if we embraced the idea of God as relationship—with ourselves, each other, and the world? Meditations are emailed every day of the week. https://cac.org/email-sign-up/


Tara Brach is a meditation teacher, psychologist and author of several books including international bestselling Radical Acceptance, Radical Compassion and Trusting the Gold. Her teaching blends Western psychology and Eastern spiritual practices, mindful attention to our inner life, and a full, compassionate engagement with our world. Tara is founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington.

Rev. Marlin Lavanhar is taking a long-awaited sabbatical from May 7 through August 7, 2022. Originally scheduled for 2020, his first sabbatical in 22 years was canceled. Rev. Lavanhar will take some much-needed rest before he and his family travel by car through Spain, Portugal, and Morocco! The staff and congregation are fully supported in his absence with the leadership of Rev. Barbara Prose and Rev. Randy Lewis, in addition to Cory Lovell, our current intern minister, who is contracting with us through the summer.