"An hour, Drexel? Really? 60 whole minutes? What were you thinking?"
Those were the words rumbling through my mind tonight on day one of my 40 day journey into Lent. If you read my entry yesterday, you know I have decided to participate in the tradition of Lent by spending one hour a day,every day, for the 40 days of Lent, in a chapel--- reading, praying, studying, listening.
One hour. A day. Every day. Really? What WAS I thinking?
The chapel today was the sanctuary at First United Methodist Church in Pensacola. The hour was spent in the traditional Ash Wednesday service, where I read, prayed, studied... and listened. But not before having a contentious conversation with myself (silently and in my mind) about this whole 'hour' thing.
I began by making a mental list of all the important chores, activities, meetings, work assignments, fun times with friends, etc. that could easily fill up that hour. Add up that hour from each day for 40 whole days, and I would lose 40 hours of time over the next 6 weeks! 40 hours! "Well, that's a fine how-do-you-do," I thought. I snatched up my bulletin and began to crankily scan the music, scriptures and sermon topic for the service.
Funny how God has a way of getting right to the point. The first hymn contained these words:
"We are... proud, impatient, loving over-much our things..." Oh..wait. You mean "things" like---chores, activities, meetings, work assignments, fun times with friends, etc? I kinda' squirmed.
Oh, it gets better.
The first scripture reading was from the Old Testament book of Joel... Chapter 2 verse 12: "Return to Me with ALL your heart." (capitalization mine.) ALL my heart. Even... perhaps especially... that daily hour's worth of my heart? I squirmed a little bit more.
The second scripture reading was Psalm 51. Verse 10 jumped, no LEAPED, out at me : "Renew a steadfast spirit within me." Steadfast. Steadfast. Now, what exactly does that mean? Oh, right- - "firm in purpose, resolution and faith." Purpose. Resolution. Faith. The words "easy" and "convenient" are NOT included in the definition.
And finally, from the sermon, taken from Matthew 6: "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
I stopped breathing for a few seconds, but my heart thudded loudly in my chest.
My treasure. My treasure. My treasure. Where, and what, was my treasure? At this moment, it appeared my treasure was my time. Did you catch that? MY time... not His. And, it was linked to MY endeavors. Not His. Hello. Message received and understood.
By this time I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this sanctuary was exactly the 'chapel' I was supposed to be in today. I knew that I was supposed to hear, and to sing, the words that I'd heard and sung in this service. And, I knew that this out-of-kilter placement of priorities is exactly the reason that I have been moved to spend an hour a day in reflective solitude----shutting out the world, the chores, the meetings, the work, the activities and the friends.
So, I'm ready for tomorrow's quiet time. All 60 minutes of it. I do not know where my "Chapel-A-Day" journey will lead me, or what it will teach me. But, I'll be ready.
Cross my heart.