"It is my hope that people of diverse religious traditions, as well as people with no religious persuasion, will feel at home with this book. The division in our churches over what we call 'religion' is heart-rending. I am deeply concerned about the increasing violence and fear in our world. The prayer of honoring the hours might be common ground for us. No matter what faith tradition we follow, we are pilgrims together on each day's journey. We all have to get up in the morning and move through the day with as much grace as we can gather. Why not make this pilgrimage through the day with a heart for one another, pausing throughout the day whether this be for two, five, or ten minutes? If we do this, someone will be pausing at every minute of the day. There will always be someone who is summoning the holy, practicing silence, standing still for remembrance of God. Our own divine selves — so prone to being smothered and forgotten in the many tasks of the day — will be acknowledged and reverenced.

"Honoring the hours through seven sacred pauses has the potential of unfolding as a spiritual practice for many faith traditions. I believe that the word practice is one of the most important words in the spiritual life. If you want to be a dancer, a pianist, a singer, a figure skater, you practice. If you want to make the team in any area of sports, you practice. Just imagine the many hours of practice given over to those who make it to the Olympics. Why should the spiritual life be any different? We practice pausing to remember the sacredness of our names, who we are, and what we plan on doing with the incredible gift of our lives — and how we can learn to be in the midst of so much doing. We have to practice loving and forgiving. We practice breathing and being careful with one another's life. We practice nonviolence. We practice enjoying what we have rather than storing up possessions. We practice silence.

"In one of his poems, the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke is talking to the 'Great Mystery' that has haunted him throughout his life. He uses the image of 'God's hands cupped around our becoming.' With gentle eloquence the poet has God asking us to live, to die, and to be.

"Seven Sacred Pauses highlights your call to be. Seven times during the day you are invited to reflect on the wondrous gift of being. Divine hands are still cupped around your becoming, and the best way to cooperate with those hands is to practice being present.

"Our being is often crowded out by our doing. Each day we are summoned to be creators of the present moment. Artists know the value of white space. Sometimes what isn't there enables us to see what is. Perhaps you are being called to the spiritual practice of bringing a little of the white space — of nada — into your workday. There in that white space you will find your soul waiting for you. Allow the anointing rhythm of the hours to touch and teach you each day."