Thursday, October 9, 2014

I Didn't Have Time to Pray - Or Maybe I Was Being God's Language

Tuesday morning I overslept. I didn't have time for my morning routine. Usually I read the Bible, pray for myself and others, and sit in God's presence watching the sun rise and noting the changes in the trees behind our house from the day before. Tuesday I rushed out the door.

Before I did, thinking I might have a few moments during the day to "catch up" on those spiritually enriching activities, I stuffed my Bible, prayer cards and the little book I'm reading into my favorite bag - placing all of my "tools for a devout life" in the back of my car - as if I could recreate my morning moments with God by osmosis through the car seat.

Stopping by the Y for a quick swim gave me the opportunity to hug the two foreign female custodians. Although their English comprehension is limited, daily hugs let them know I honor them and appreciate the care they give the locker room.

Next, was my last session of physical therapy for uneven hips. Waiting my turn, I saw a lady who used to attend the church Mike pastored. She had a pained expression on her face, uncharacteristic from when I knew her in the past. She explained she was on disability due to physical difficulties with her back and neck. I remembered her energy and vitality, now turned to despair and pain as reflected in her eyes and body posture. I heard regret and longing in her voice as we talked. When my name was called, I stood and gave her a hug adding her to my prayer list.

My physical therapists have been patient and encouraging the past four weeks. Practicing the exercises they gave me helped level my hips and eliminate the pain that had accompanied me for several months. At the end of the session, I gave each one a note of gratitude for their care.

Changing clothes, I walked quickly to the other side of the building from the physical therapy office to volunteer at the IU Saxony Hospital. Each week I walk all over the hospital listening to the joys and concerns of the staff and family members and friends of patients.

After that, I traveled to a church in Castleton for a meeting. On the way I glanced at the back in the back of my car.

"Still no time to pray," I thought, stopping at the bank to make a deposit for Sarah.

Inside the church I helped an interior designer move a chair from one end of the church to another where a new office is being constructed. Blessing the chair for the person who will use it for ministry allowed me to be present to the new life the chair will bring in God's service to many.

Returning home to eat dinner, I left to teach an evening class on prayer at St. Luke's United Methodist Church. Seeing my bag in the back seat where I put it earlier in the day, I shook my head and thought, "Still haven't prayed today. Oh my."

After class, I drove home thinking about a short note of condolence I wanted to write to one of Anna's friends whose grandmother died. Wanting the card to go out in the mail the next day, I went to my desk, where I expressed my thoughts and decorated the paper with two pieces of embroidery.

Noticing my Bible and prayer cards were not on my desk, I ran downstairs to the garage, sighed, grabbed the handles of the bag containing "my tools for a devout life", and carried it inside, regretting my lack of discipline to wake up early enough to pray.

Then I remembered two quotes. The first is from the preface of Rabbi Harold Kushner's book, "When Bad Things Happen to Good People". He mentions a nineteenth century rabbi, Menachem Mendel of Rymanov who once said, "Human beings are God's language." The second quote is one of my favorites from Mother Theresa, "We are pencils in God's hand."

Although I did not get up early to complete my usual time of reflection, I pray my life and every one of my responses was God's language; I hope that I was a pencil in God's hand.

I trusted in that grace, nevertheless, I set my alarm clock to wake me earlier tomorrow morning.

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