She was walking east along the sidewalk on North Dairy. It was 6:30 in the morning. I was on the chip trail separated from her by a stretch of green boulevard.

She was probably in her thirties. As she walked, I saw her right hand briefly touch her forehead, then brush the centre of her chest and  each shoulder. In a fleeting gesture on a city street in the early morning, she had made the sign of the cross. I looked again and saw a rosary dangling from the fingers of her left hand. Just before she was out of sight, she raised the rosary to her lips and kissed the prayer beads as she continued walking.

A sacred act to begin her day. A gesture of devotion perhaps on her way to work.

As I carried on around the chip trail, I wondered what practices I have in my life that help me stay conscious of the divine presence throughout the frequently distracted hours of my day. What do I do that helps me stay aware? How am I preparing my heart to open to the subtle rhythms of divinity?

It is so easy for the clamouring demands of daily life to crowd out consciousness of the Presence I believe permeates all of existence. The world shouts much louder than the Spirit. The Spirit speaks most commonly as “a sound of sheer silence” (I Kings 19:12) It takes patience to stay grounded in the practice of divine Presence. God will not be rushed. Hurry, urgency, self-importance, demand, and driving agenda are enemies that crowd out consciousness of Divine Presence.

When Peter floating aimlessly in his boat after a night of futile fishing, finally recognized Jesus standing on the shore after the resurrection, Jesus asked him,

‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ (John 21:15)

I imagine Jesus waving his hand to indicate everything in Peter’s life that was familiar and comfortable. I picture the sweep of Jesus’ gesture taking in all those things and people to which Peter was most attached – “Do you love me more than these? More than your friends, your family, your work, your familiar routines, your comfortable life?”

Walking along the sidewalk in the early morning hours, a young woman says to Jesus, “Yes, I love you more than all these.” By her simple act of devotion, she responds to the challenge of Jesus saying, “I desire to put love, beauty, truth and compassion at the centre of my life. I agree to allow everything else to take its place around you and be ordered according to your way.”

This makes all the difference. Peace begins with a simple act of devotion, a strand of prayer beads, an intentional moment of silence, a kneeling prayer at the start of my day. I reconnect with an awareness of my true nature, when I enter this place where I acknowledge a power at work in my life and in the world that is greater than any of those things to which I cling, greater than any of those fine plans and schemes I have for my life. When my actions start from this place of devotion, this heart of love, they take on the aroma of Jesus and there is a flow and an order to my existence that enables me to be deeply nurtured as I face the demands of the day ahead.