So, this has been a pretty great week in J-Land. For starters, on Wednesday night, we got to welcome this little one into the world:
My little niece Lucy! Being an uncle is super fun. You get to have all the fun you want with the little girl, and then when she poops in her diaper you hand her back to your kid sister. That whole process feels right to me. Also, not for nothing, but when Lucy was born at 9:51 on Wednesday night, the score of the Penguin game was 1-1. About 10 minutes later it was 4-1, and we were watching the 5th goal get called back for offsides. I choose to see those events as related. The kid's a good luck charm!
As a result of her arrival though, I definitely feel like I've been thrown off of whatever pattern I usually have for the week. Today is a day where I just feel constantly behind on stuff, like I'm always a step or two behind even my own goals or desires. I am just now starting to dig my way out from under a mountain of e-mail (I blog so that I can procrastinate). I've got a sermon that still needs to be written. I've got some work to do before a video shoot this Sunday that I would very badly like to wrap up today. I am running about as fast as I can.
It will all work out. It always does. But it throws a spotlight on something that I've been desperately searching for, a pattern, a rhythm, a predictability to life. Obviously the birth of a niece is a pretty good disruption to that pattern, and I couldn't be happier. But even in the weeks where I don't have a niece being born (which is, in fact, most weeks) I don't have a real solid grip on the patterns of life just now.
And for me, I think part of that is that I need to start with the spiritual practices. Can I be honest as a pastor right now? My prayer life is pretty bummer. I used to have a defined rhythm, to the point that you could almost order my day around prayer. As things get busier and busier, that gets harder and harder to keep up with for some reason. It's among the first things I throw overboard.
My temptation in all of this is to throw out all the work stuff, all the busy stuff, and just get down to praying. But the reality is, that's never going to happen. E-mails keep showing up in my inbox, meetings keep getting put on the calendar, work keeps showing up throughout the day.
But then I remembered something I had read a long time ago, so I can't quite remember where to source it. But the idea was that the times for fixed hour prayer, a tradition the church has celebrated for thousands of years, were actually set by the market place. There were bells in the market that would ring to indicate opening, lunch breaks, coffee breaks, and closing. Or something like that anyway. The church decided that since you could hear the bells throughout the town, that they would co-opt the bells to mark the times for prayer. In essence, they didn't demand that the schedule of the day bend to their routines. They bent their routines to the schedule of the day.
I don't exactly know what that might look like for those of us who are youth pastors, or anyone else who doesn't exactly have a predictable schedule. Sometimes I'm in the office by 9, sometimes by 6, and sometimes not till noon. But maybe it's less about time, and more about activity. Maybe before I open e-mails in the morning, it's a good time to do the lectionary. Maybe before I take a break for lunch, I could do a quick walk to the sanctuary to pray for my friends and family. Maybe instead of just diving into writing a sermon, I can take a minute to catch my breath and focus on the Spirit dwelling inside me.
How do you engage in spiritual practices throughout the work day? Leave some love in the comments, and have a great weekend everyone!