For all of Lent, I wanted to rise early and meditate before going to work. And for all of Lent, I failed.
The idea sounds wise when you are trying to squeeze in your day’s prayers at 10 p.m.
‘This will be the first thing I do tomorrow,’ I often thought to myself.
But when the rubber met the road, an extra 15 minutes of sleep always trumped waking early.
I finally managed to do a weekday morning reflection this week, which is ironically the last week of Lent. Not surprisingly, it was a most pleasant way to start the day. It certainly beat rolling out of bed and cursing fate, the universe and whatever other forces had conspired to end my time of rest. It was so nice that I was kind of annoyed with myself for not having done it sooner.
‘Too bad it’s Holy Week,” I mused sadly. “I really could have gotten into the swing of this morning prayer routine.’
The glaring answer, of course, is that I still can. Holy Week and Easter Sunday may respectively mark the end and beginning of a liturgical season, but in the day-to-day ins and outs of real life, endings and beginnings are much harder to distinguish. The fact of the matter is I am constantly discovering practices, behaviors and ways of being that I would like to begin to adopt more in my life, while I am also recognizing old habits, thought patterns or relationships that are ready to end. Though the close of Lent is upon us, the last 40 odd days have brought lessons and experiences I would like to maintain.
While I could not say there has been an over-arching lesson or theme to my Lenten walk, I have learned it is important, even necessary, to maintain a sacred space. For me, that has meant carving out a few minutes each day to sit in silent prayer. For others, it might mean setting aside a half hour to paint each day. I once read an interview with Rod Stewart, and he said he unwinds by building model trains. Whatever it is, I really think we all need a time and/or place where we can completely be ourselves and unplug from the going-ons of the world, even if for a moment.
The days when I was most open to this idea, when I was most prepared to temporarily cast off my preoccupations and plans, I discovered that I did not miss anything in slowing down. I actually felt that in “unplugging,” I was more available – really available – when I returned to the world around me.
And on the days when I struggled? Well, tomorrow is always another day.