*Alternate* First Reading: By Howard Thurman in Meditations of the Heart

How good it is to center down
To sit quietly and see one’s self pass by!
The streets of our minds seethe with endless traffic;
Our spirits resound with clashings, with noisy silences,
While something deep within hungers and thirsts for the still moment and the
resting lull.
With full intensity we seek, ere the quiet passes, a fresh sense
of order in our living;
A direction, a strong sure purpose that will structure our confusion
and bring meaning in our chaos.

We look at ourselves in this waiting moment — the kinds of people we are.
The questions persist: what are we doing with our lives? —
what are the motives that order our days?
What is the end of our doings? Where are we trying to go?
Where do we put the emphasis and where are our values focused?
For what end do we make sacrifices?
Where is my treasure and what do I love most in life?
Over and over the questions beat in upon the waiting moment.
As we listen, floating up through all the jangling echoes of our turbulence,
there is a sound of another kind —
A deeper note which only the stillness of the heart makes clear.
It moves directly to the core of our being. Our questions are answered,
Our spirits refreshed, and we move back into the traffic of our daily round
With the peace of the Eternal in our step.
How good it is to center down!

The words of Howard Thurman.