I continued working on the church’s web site well past 11pm last night. By the time I stopped, I knew I should sleep, but my mind was too full of hex codes and trial-and-error tweaks to the CSS. So, I began to read: a Ruth Burrows book on prayer that’s been reprinted after many years of being on the ‘hard to find’ list.
Read far too long, and then kept waking through the night (hex codes being an improvement on fretting over Cranmer). Therefore,I got up later than planned; foolishly turned on the computer while my hair was still wet; got caught up in emails, and was running very late.
In fact, I had done each and every one of the things that I know I must not do if I am to sustain the rhythms of prayer. Again.
So, at 9.02 am, I was hunting for my keys and gulping down a mug of tea, and feeling terribly guilty that the church wasn’t unlocked yet and that I’d made a mess of the morning, when the phone rang.
Dilemma. To answer the phone before praying is fatal. Even worse than email, it pulls me into the swirling waters of the day when I am not ready. Should I let the machine get it and slip out the door? Tempting, but no.
And I’m so glad I answered.
My prayer this morning happened mostly while on the phone, hearing the most lovely man tell me about his life. There in fifteen minutes were all the gems: undergraduate days, reading Rousseau, meeting his wife; the sort of work in the war that many must have experienced, but leaves me feeling breathless in awe; his children, his grandchildren, his work; the pain of grief and the great pride of seeing those you love do what they set out to do and (even better) seeing them loved. All this because he’s marking a milestone, and wants to give a gift to the church that was once part of his journey. He’d rung for an address.
By the time we finished, I knew formal prayer was doomed, but walked to the post office caught up in a song (‘the Lord is my light, my light and salvation…’). After the post office, when I should have been hurrying home to work, I found myself standing on the bridge watching the ducks. People who passed might have thought I was crying, might have though I was upset. How can one explain the tears that come of grace? the almost unbearable joy of God coming in the most unexpected ways?
And then, the memory of Sunday’s epistle:
My grace is sufficient for you.
My power made perfect in weakness.