Sacred Pauses

The crow and I have become good friends.

He, remaining impressively quiet in the early morning hours (I’m sure just for me!) and I, sitting on the deck or staring out the window, mug in hand, simply appreciating his presence. We are witnesses together here, of the first spring blossoms and the changing colors of the sky.

I look ahead on all the possibilities of the day, the segments held together like the juicy flesh of an orange bound by a thin membrane. Each one that goes by I want to savor, notice, taste, appreciate. I want to recognize the gifts. I want to thank the Giver.

Rarely am I able to diagnose my own needs. But at the start of this year, looking ahead at all the blank boxes of the calendar, it wasn’t too hard to sort this one out: I needed more time to pray. Or, perhaps the real truth–I needed to pray more in my time.

How much I go to God in prayer is a much better indicator of my own self-sufficiency than I could ever diagnose on my own. The more I realized how much of my day I go through with an “I’ve got this” mentality, the more I’ve been humbled by my own pride and self-importance.

This is about remembering my hourly neediness, my constant dependence on Christ.

As ten o’clock nears, the crow caws louder, hopping from roof to branches. I look up from my work at the trees whose buds are now mysteriously becoming leaves. Soon the bells will chime again, calling me to pause, let go of my drive to achieve, and take time to remember.

They say it takes seven weeks to develop a new habit. If that’s true, then this post is a bit premature, for I’ve only been setting alarms for about two weeks. There are days when I’m in meetings or with friends, and those moments sweep by without notice. There are days when prayers happen while scrubbing floors or driving home, or in a simple breath of “thank you.” But I hope, whatever it looks like, I’ll be able to build this habit of pausing six times a day to recognize the holy ground I’m walking on.

Interestingly, having a natural division of the hours in my day is helping me stay a bit more organized, maybe even get more done. Taking a few minutes to breathe in between crossing off the to-do list has given me a chance to process emotions, evaluate priorities. And yet that’s not the point. Whether or not it’s beneficial to me, I want this to be about Christ. About worship. About re-orienting my life and perspective, reminding myself not to live for self-gratification or pleasure, reminding me to look around for opportunities to do good, opportunities to give thanks. It’s about preaching the gospel to myself over and over again, repenting quickly when I’ve sinned, filling my mind with truth and praise.

This is about not getting sidetracked by pursuing justice, and neglecting the pursuit of Christ.

 

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