Still Points in the Day: Notes from the Rocket

Photo courtesy of Christine Mason Miller

An entry in the Notes from the Rocket series

by Christine Mason Miller.


I have this beautiful friend, Christine Mason Miller, who reached out to me a couple years ago via email. We found ourselves sharing many common interests, particularly concerning interior growth and spirituality, and since then have shared emails, phone calls, a couple yummy lunch dates, and even the rare handwritten letter. 

Christine is a wise soul. A generous soul. A gregarious soul. A contemplative soul.

She teaches me so much. 

About six months ago, maybe, she began posting a series of photos on Instagram that she titled “Notes from the Rocket.” The Rocket is her vintage typewriter. The notes are gentle words of wisdom. She posts them almost daily.

When scrolling through my Instagram feed, I’ve noticed these notes from Christine’s vintage Rocket typewriter have become a still point for me. The words wash over me, offering me graces I didn’t know I needed in the moments I encountered them.

If you’re on Instagram, I recommend you follow Christine. She has a way of restoring and uplifting the soul.

Note: This marks the last entry in the “Still Points in the Day” series here on Still Forming. Join me back here on Monday for a new series exploration.

Still Points in the Day: Flying

So far? So good.

Last night, I flew into New York City to join Kirk, who has been here since Monday for a conference. We’re staying here through Sunday, just the two of us, to celebrate a landmark birthday he recently had. 

My flight itinerary came on the heels of print week where I work — an intense multi-day process that involves several late nights and acute attention to detail. 

When I got through security at the airport, on the heels of that hectic week plus the bustle of moving through crowds with two bags in tow, I was exhausted. 

Thankfully, I found a quiet corner in a gate area that was not in use, where I could lean against a wall of windows and charge my depleted iPhone on the only wall outlet in the terminal that wasn’t surrounded by a zillion other tech users.

It was 30 minutes of introvert bliss. 

I’ve decided an introvert’s ideal flying experience is the one I had last night: a half-full flight at night with quiet passengers and a whole row to myself. The debut album of the Lone Bellow was my company across the air-flown miles, and I alternated between reading Susan Cain’s exceptional book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and staring off into space, thinking. 

When I arrived in New York to reunite with Kirk, I was refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to experience the city. 

I love flying — mainly because the experience gives my introversion time to breathe. 

Do you ever experience flying this way?

Still Points in the Day: All Is Prayer


A friend shared a video with me yesterday about prayer as a state of consciousness — the idea that we can hold a posture, inwardly and outwardly, that is prayer, no matter what we are doing. 

It made me think of the series we explored here recently called “Prayer Can Be.”

Prayer can be verbal, yes.

But it can also be silence, and dance, and drawing, and tears, and exercise, and preparing a meal, and so many other things in life. 

Just as I was sharing yesterday, in reference to the writings of Brother Lawrence and Jean-Pierre de Caussade, practicing the presence of God and attending to the sacrament of the present moment can create in us an ability to be still and prayerful inside ourselves while going about the mundane details of life. 

In that sense, still points are with us all day long. 

I’d encourage you to watch the 3-minute video my friend shared with me. Perhaps it will serve as a still point for you, as it was for me. 

Still Points in the Day: Routine Activities


As I was getting ready for work this morning, I noticed a still point happening underneath the surface of my around-the-house bustling.

Washing the dishes. 

Making the coffee. 

Drying my hair. 

Putting on make-up. 

I started thinking how often this happens for me.

I can be washing the dishes in the kitchen sink after dinner, sudsing up each dish and then rinsing it clean with hot water, and in my mind and heart I’m thinking of someone or a situation. Praying over it. Meditating upon it. 

Or I’m going through the motions of my getting-ready routine — brushing through my curls, applying lotions and moisturizers to my face and skin, picking out my shoes for the day — and underneath those automatic activities, I’m thinking about the day ahead, holding concerns in my heart, thinking through decisions. 

Brother Lawrence spoke of making each activity a prayer. Jean-Pierre de Caussade wrote of the sacrament of the present moment. Both of these men were speaking of mindfulness — being present to what you are doing as you are doing it, allowing that activity to become an intentional channel for prayer — and I’m very much in favor of that practice as a means of prayer. 

But sometimes automatic activities and routines we’ve sustained for so long we could do them blind become hospitable moments for deeper thought. It’s like someone who prefers to draw or take notes or play solitaire while listening to a lecture because the use of their hands keeps one part of their brain happy while freeing up the other part of their brain to listen better. 

Routine activities are like that for me sometimes. They can be gateways for deeper meditations of the heart. 

Do you ever experience this?

Still Points in the Day: Music


Have you ever had one of those moments where you’re listening to a new song or watching a music video and you’re completely arrested by what you hear? The last time I can remember that happening was when I discovered the Civil Wars and watched their “Poison and Wine” video. (So completely heartbreaking.) 

But this past Friday, I had a chance to check out a band called the Lone Bellow and stumbled on this video: 

If you can’t see the video in your RSS feed or email browser, click here.

Oh, man. It made time stop for me. I couldn’t pull my eyes away from the screen, and I teared up, just listening to the heartache here. 

It was a moment that made me completely present. Everything else fell away and I was totally zoned in. 

Has that happened to you with music ever before? 

Still Points in the Day: Sitting in the Bank Drive-Up

A chance moment.

I stopped by the bank on my lunch break today, and while the teller was processing my transaction, I noticed a little bird sitting on top of a 3-foot post about 10 feet away from my car. Just sitting there, looking out on the traffic of the busy street in front of him, cocking his head from side to side in curiosity, taking it all in. 

I loved that petite little bird. He reminded me a bit of Diva and the way she sits and looks out on our neighborhood

That little bird was a bit of a zen master for me in that moment — in the midst of the busyness and the rush and the ordinariness of life’s afternoon, he was just sitting there, appreciating the moment. 

And so I did too. (At least, until my time in the drive-up was done.)

Have you caught chance moments like this lately, going about the mundane duties of life but then arrested by the invitation to take it all in?

Still Points in the Day: Contemplative Lectures


Discovered on one of my #mileaday runs last week.

Kirk and I had the privilege of attending a lecture by Fr. Richard Rohr this evening — the same Richard Rohr who inspired the “Pieces of Formation” series we recently explored here in this space — and it was such a privilege. 

In the first place, we both love his writings.

In the second place, we learned tonight that he has two more months of traveling and speaking and then he’s retiring from it for good. (He has said he’ll only ever travel again if the Dalai Lama personally requests to see him. I’m sorta loving that!) So seeing him tonight was an unexpectedly rare opportunity.

More than anything, though, it was a privilege because of the kinship. 

When we walked into that packed room, I felt an immediate sense of camaraderie with the others there. People smiled openly. They made eye contact with you. They seemed relaxed and full of joy. 

And that was before Fr. Rohr even took the stage!

But when he sat down in that chair on the stage and began to speak to us about the formational process of the first and second halves of life, I felt my soul settle. I felt it breathe. I felt in tune with who I really am in this world — my heart for the deeper things, for contemplative spaces, for meaningful existence. 

In short, I felt connected to my true self. 

Which Fr. Rohr would say is the essence of real living.

I’m thankful for the way Fr. Rohr helped me think about things tonight. I’m thankful for the way he made me thankful yet again for the path I’ve walked — full of highs and lows — that have led me deeper into communion with God. I’m thankful for the way he made me thankful, yet again, for the chance to do my life’s work.

Are there people whose books or lectures make you feel more settled into your own soul?

Still Points in the Day: Snow Moments

Snow sky and wintry tree.

Taken in Nashville, February 2012

A reader in the U.K. shared with me this week that they’re having snow. Specifically, she shared about some time she spent standing at her window, looking out on the snow, finding a still moment. 

The silent falling of white

I live in sunny Florida, where snow is in no way a seasonal possibility, and I must say I envied my friend’s quiet moment with the hush of snow falling outside her window. Those of you living in colder climes might find the grace and joy of similar moments. 

Where have you been finding still points of late? 

Still Points in the Day: Writing Passages

Thomas Merton. Inspired.

I had a pretty exceptional session in spiritual direction with Elaine earlier this week that is making all the difference in the world in my continued life with God. I’ll be sharing more about it in the Cup of Sunday Quiet mailing this weekend, but for now I will share that because of what happened in our session, I’m feeling joy again. Connection with God. Surrounded by love. Pursuit of life. 

Because of this, I’ve been able to hold still moments of contemplation with greater duration this week. 

And that’s been such a gift, given this hard season. 

A couple nights ago, I stayed up in the late hours reading a new copy of Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation that Kirk gifted to me recently. When I came to the following passage, I kept reading it over and over again: 

“For it is God’s love that warms me in the sun and God’s love that sends the cold rain. It is God’s love that feeds me the bread I eat and God that feeds me also by hunger and fasting. It is the love of God that sends the winter days when I am cold and sick, and the hot summer when I labor and my clothes are full of sweat: but it is God who breathes on me with light winds off the river and in the breezes out of the wood. His love spreads the shade of the sycamore over my head and sends the water-boy along the edge of the wheat field with a bucket from the spring, while the laborers are resting and the mules stand under the tree …

   “And I would grow together with thousands and millions of other freedoms into the gold of one huge field praising God, loaded with increase, loaded with wheat. If in all things I consider only the heat and the cold, the food or the hunger, the sickness or labor, the beauty or pleasure, the success and failure or the material good or evil my works have won for my own will, I will find only emptiness and not happiness. I shall not be fed, I shall not be full. For my food is the will of Him who made me and Who made all things in order to give Himself to me through them.” 

—Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

It was a still point for me to read these words again and again. But I also felt moved to do something with them.

For the first time, I wished myself a word artist, able to create a beautiful doodling of this quote. 

But I am not a word artist. I do not create beautiful doodles with words. 

I do write, though. And so I pulled out some nice stationery paper, broke it in half, and wrote out the words by hand. 

Writing the words on paper in my own penmanship helped me meditate even deeper upon their meaning to me. It helped push them deeper into my heart. It helped claim them even more as my truth. 

Do you ever write passages that mean something like this to you?

Still Points in the Day: Listening to Another

Landslide of glory.

I had a chance to meet a friend for happy hour last night. We’re relatively new friends, and there’s a lot about each other’s lives and histories that we have yet to learn. So we sat outside in the perfect evening clime, drank some wine, shared some food, and talked. 

It was a chance for me to listen — openly, attentively, deeply, acceptingly. To receive and hold her heart and story. To see God so plainly there. To acknowledge truth with her — the hard parts and the grace-filled parts. To share what I could see in her sharing.

Holding space with another person is such an opportunity for stillness in the present moment. To be fully there, welcoming what comes. To gaze with the gaze of God, the one who does not look away or flinch but nods, acknowledges, responds, and loves. Always.

How have you experienced listening as a still point?

Still Points in the Day: Sitting on the Couch With Coffee or Tea

My favorite mug.

My favorite mug. 

When we first moved into our neighborhood, we discovered a family of owls lives here. In the evenings, on occasion, we could hear them hooting back and forth to one another.

We spotted one of them pretty early on — a barred owl, sitting up in a tree, staring at us as we looked up at him. We named him Reuben. 

Only occasionally have we heard that family of owls in the five years we’ve lived here. Maybe they moved to another neighborhood for a while. 

But they seem to have moved back. 

Over the last couple months, we’ve heard them frequently. Hooting and cacking back and forth at one another. One owl, in particular, hoots his way all through the night sometimes. 

I notice the owls hooting when I sit on the couch in the evenings with my mug of tea. Doing nothing else. Just sitting and being with the moment and listening to the sounds of the owls. Watching Solomon and Diva snooze, all snuggled up on a blanket. 


Do you know the sound a cardinal makes? 

It’s a tiny chirp. A tweet. One staccato note, so unobtrusive. The same pitch every time. 

I know this because Kirk knows pretty much everything there is to know about birds. He can identify them by sight and sound. He can spot a bald eagle far off in the sky, catching its “flash of white” on its wingspan and tail. He knows about ospreys and herons and kites and, yes, cardinals. 

He taught me to notice the cardinal chirp.

I hear it when I’m sitting on the couch in the morning with my tumbler of coffee. Just sitting. Doing nothing but breathing in and out. Listening to the sounds of the neighborhood. Rubbing Diva’s back if she decides to snuggle up beside me on the blanket. 


Sitting on the couch with coffee or tea in the morning or evening becomes a still point for me. 

What are the still points for you right now?

Still Points in the Day: Spiritual Direction

A pair.

I’ve been meeting with my spiritual director, Elaine, for four years now, and every month, our hour-long sessions are like breathing fresh, pure air. I have so many memories of leaving her home with a smile on my face and a bounce in my step, deeply encouraged at having encountered God in some new way during our time together.

The last few months, our sessions have been even more important to me than usual. By the time I reach our appointment, I have felt on my last breath spiritually, needing so much the gift of shared time and space with this person who knows me and my relationship with God and sits with me in it with wisdom, patience, full acceptance, and love. 

I told Elaine yesterday that our time together is so helpful for me right now because it provides a place for me to sit with the reality of my life with God and not be alone in it. Sharing that space with her makes me braver. And in a season of difficulty in my life with God, I need all the bravery I can get to face this reality and be present to it without distraction or avoidance. 

I am so thankful for the gift of spiritual direction in my life. 

Do you have a place of companionship like spiritual direction in your life right now?

Still Points in the Day: Watching Diva

I love watching Diva sit at the screen door and look out at the neighborhood. She's so curious yet content.

I count as a “still point” anything that causes me to be present to the present moment — not avoiding or distracting myself away from the reality of where I really am. 

And so, sometimes, the still point I most need is found in watching Diva. 

One of her favorite things to do is sit in front of the screen door, looking out on the neighborhood. She’ll sit in the same position for such a long time, and the only things moving are her ears, which twitch from time to time, or her face, which moves up, down, and side to side as she watches squirrels climb trees, lizards cross the porch, or cars drive by. 

I love her contentment and curiosity.

As I typed this post, she discovered a small-sized box I put in the middle of our front room after I returned from Costco. It took her about an hour to discover it sitting there, waiting for her, but once she found it, she put her front paws inside of it, straddling it, and rubbed her face along the box edge. Then she put the rest of herself inside the box and sat there, looking around, triumphant. 

Sometimes she sits stock-still about two inches in front of the air conditioning vent in our hallway, staring at it. I have no idea why she does this.

Just a moment ago, she rubbed her paws frantically against my leg when she heard me singing an Adele song. Then, when I pulled her on my lap to give her a squeeze, she wriggled out of my arms and jumped on the table, all so she could sit on the opposite side of my laptop screen and rub her face along its edge. 

When she’s curious, I watch her. 

When she’s still as a statue, I watch her. 

When she’s sleeping, I watch her. 

When she’s wandering around the house, I watch her. 

When she’s tolerating Solomon’s advances, I watch her. 

When she stares up at me with her plaintive blue eyes, I watch her.

I learn so much, just watching Diva. She fills my heart so full, I think it’s going to explode. I’m thankful for the way she teaches me how to love, both in the way I love her and in the way she loves me. 

I find still points in the day watching Diva.

What about you? Where are you finding still points right now?

Still Points in the Day: Wellspring

A holy chair.

Every second Thursday of the month, Kirk and I attend a contemplative gathering at a local church called Wellspring. It’s led by ordained artist and writer Jan Richardson and her immensely talented musician husband, Garrison Doles. 

We love it so. 

It’s a very simple service held in a tiny side chapel at the local United Methodist Church. The people who attend come from a wide ecumenical background and are beginning to feel a bit like family now. Garry shares his wonderful music with us. We read scripture together. We sit in long silences together. Jan shares a beautiful reflection that ushers us through the church year. We share conversation as a group from the places we’re sitting in our pews. We break the bread of Communion. 

I love every single aspect of this service, but one of the things I love the most is the chance to let my spirit rest. 

We slink quietly into the chapel, where Garry picks softly on his guitar and others sit quietly—listening, praying, being. We slide into our usual spot in the back pew, set our things down, and settle in. 

I close my eyes and breathe deep. I can feel the settling settle over me.

Time for rest

My spirit is at peace in this place. I’m welcome here. I’m invited to notice God. I’m thankful. 

The Wellspring service is a still point for me.

Do you have a space like this that is a still point for you?

Still Points in the Day: Post-Run

Bearded mother.

On the first day of January, I started a personal challenge called #mileaday. It’s a challenge to run one mile every day for the month of January, and so far I’ve been faithful to do it. (I have Elise Blaha to thank for the inspiration to try this—I follow her on Instagram and watched her complete her own version of the challenge every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.)

First things first. I am not a runner. Not in the slightest. I’ve always viewed running as a special form of torture and could not comprehend why anyone would choose to do it willingly. I viewed those who love running as a very special subset of the human race—one to which I would never, ever belong. 

But Elise’s description of the #mileaday challenge on her blog appealed to me. For starters, it felt do-able. One mile a day. That’s it. A 10- to 15-minute commitment. Just getting outside and moving my body around. Running as fast or as slow as I needed, but just doing it.

I figured I could try it for the month of January and see what happened. 

It’s been an interesting challenge so far, and I’ll likely write more of my thoughts on the experience later on, probably once I finish the month. 

But for now, I want to share this:

My favorite part is the post-run routine.

That’s when I get to walk and recover my heartrate and breathing. It’s when I get to listen to more mellow tunes and relax my hold on my phone and not constantly worry about my earbuds popping out of my ears or have to keep adjusting them. 

Best of all, it’s when I get to wander.

I wander around the neighborhood, revisiting the spots I noticed during my run where I saw something interesting worth photographing. I go back to those places and get to take a meditative moment with beauty and reflection and creativity and God.

It’s been a bit of a dry season for my, creatively, the last few months. I’ve hardly photographed anything. My eyes couldn’t seem to notice anything new. Nothing seemed fresh or beautiful anymore. Whereas I used to take several photographs a day, almost bubbling over with the beauty I noticed around me, I was lucky if I took three photographs in a week anymore. 

But on Day 3 of the #mileaday challenge, I remarked the following: 

“I think being outside is good for me. I’m finding beautiful things to photograph again.” 

I’m finding still points in my post-run routine, and I’m so thankful for it.

Where are you finding still points right now?

Still Points in the Day: Laying in Bed, and an Introduction

Light shines through.

Taken on Christmas Day at a family friend’s house.

This morning, I woke at 5:30 a.m.

There was no reason for this, and I’d only gone to sleep about four hours earlier. But there I was: in bed, wide awake. 

I clicked on the phone to see the time, groaned, and then slid the bar with my finger to unlock it. Then I opened the usual apps in the usual order. First, email. Then Facebook and Twitter. Then Instagram. Then, because I was bored, solitaire. Then, because all the cards on the screen made my bleary eyes dizzy, Cheesar—a game app that’s recently addicted me.

But I was too tired to play games. So I groped in the dark for my earbuds, untangled them, and plugged them into my phone. Then I opened the Netflix app and streamed Parenthood from where I’d left off. 

These are the things I do when I can’t sleep.

These are the things I do when I don’t want the stillness. 

Stillness has always come easy for me. I’m a contemplative by nature and a contemplative by vocation. Extended times of stillness are part of my regular life, a commitment I maintain with care and relative ease.

That is, until recently. 

If you subscribe to the Cup of Sunday Quiet email series, you know, from the personal notes I share in that space each week, that I’ve been walking through a difficult season in my faith life. A lot has changed in the last six months, and the changes have not been one bit comfortable. 

One of the most difficult aspects of this shift is stillness. Staying present to God and the work God is doing in me is hard work, and I find myself resistant. 

And so I distract myself. 

And all along, the feeling that I’m missing out on something important dogs at my heels. 

I know that stillness is what I need. Being present to God. Being present to myself. Being awake to my interior life. 

I streamed Parenthood on my phone until 7:30 this morning. Then I closed out of Netflix, clicked off my phone, and pulled the earbuds out. My head collapsed on the pillow. I shifted to my side and pulled one knee up to my ribs. I closed my eyes. Breathed in and out. 


Somehow, the grace to attend reached me. I noticed my thoughts as they rambled over my day yesterday—the things I did, the things I had planned to do but didn’t. Regrets. Sadness. Gladness. Thanks. 

I felt the gift of that moment, just being present and acknowledging the truth of my thoughts and feelings to myself and to God. And then I thought of this space—how this could be a place where I invite us all to be present to the still moments in our days, at least for the next little while. 

No matter how hard-won those still points are. 

Will you join me?

Today, I had a still moment while laying in bed. What about you?