Yesterday, I tried writing a blog post from my phone. It is not an easy task pecking out one letter at a time (aka OLAT). My short little fingers speed across the virtual keyboard and seem to hit the wrong letter about every other peck. When I write an e-mail my smart phone often guesses what I’m trying to say and substitutes the correct word. But sometimes the guesses are goofy, even embarrassing. It will interpret my hasty, bad spelling of “people” as “proletariat” or “doing” as “dung.” Proofreading is essential. When I first became a smart phone owner, I sent out a lot of screwball messages.
Slowing down and single tasking is the only way I can produce a coherent piece of communication. My usual doing twelve things at a time is my idea of fun, so OLAT is tedious and frustrating. It’s not true for all things and all times, but in general, One Thing at A Time is pretty good advice for living much of my life: One Day at a Time, One Lollipop at a Time, One Breath at a Time, One Spouse at a Time… Not so good for combing hairs or eating cornflakes, however.
In the past month I’ve flown from Central Time to Pacific Time to Eastern Time to Central Time to Pacific Time to Central Time…. I’ve pretty much lost track of the date and the time. There must be a name for this circadian disorder. My 24-hour rhythms are all messed up. So are my husband’s. Andy calls me at 8AM his time and I snore a hello into the phone. He exclaims, “You’re still asleep at 9AM?” Then he groans an apologetic “Oh” remembering I’m not in Baltimore, but in Seattle where it’s 6AM.
As much as hopping around time zones can mess with my sleep patterns and my planetary orientation, I love travel and the attention it requires. I have to be alert so I don’t miss a plane. Changes in temperature and climate affect my packing decisions. I notice my surroundings more–the lush gardens and the long hours of light in the Northwest; the humid, sunny days on the East Coast; the heavy, endless heat of the South. Sometimes I have to find ways to stay awake longer than usual so I don’t wake in the middle of the night. All of these variations and variables require attention.
When I stay in one place too long my senses go numb. One day merges into the next. I miss the color of the vegetation, the changes in temperature and light, and both the floral and industrial smells of my city. I fail to notice the subtle improvements and the subtle declines in the town where I live. I become complacent.
I can’t help but think of the many parables in which Jesus says, “Keep Awake” or “Stay Alert.” Matthew 25 and Mark 13 are two examples. Jesus reminds us ‘”Keep awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:13 NRSV) Sometimes, I literally don’t the know the day or hour. But whether my circadian rhythms are in or out of sync, I certainly don’t know my final day or hour or THE final day or hour. So I’ll try to practice staying awake and alert at all times and in all time zones–with a little sleep thrown in for good measure and good mood.
Drawing: Sybil MacBeth
When I read articles about millions of barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico and see pictures of oil-drenched birds and satellite images of an encroaching oil sheen, I can’t help but pray the confessional and cleansing verses of Psalm 51 :
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. (NRSV)
This is my prayer. Maybe it’s BP’s prayer, too. Maybe it’s even the prayer of the Gulf itself.
Drawing: Sybil MacBeth 2010
Below is a prayer drawing I have been using for a couple of weeks. As new prayer concerns came to mind and heart, I added doodles. The act of drawing focuses my prayers and my wandering mind. Every time I look at it, the resulting picture reminds me to pray.
Sometimes when I pray I think I’m being rude to pray over and over again for the same person or about the same issue. When I was a kid, my parents taught me that begging, nagging, and asking for something more than once was impolite.
But there is Biblical precedence for nagging in prayer:
Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.’For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’ “ (Luke 18: 1-5 NRSV)
Luke encourages my nagging…or as my friend Claire calls it: “passionate begging.” I think I’ll just call it persistence; it sounds a little more polite.
Drawing: Sybil MacBeth 2010