Sunday, February 19, 2012

Are you there, Elise? It's Me, God.

Christ's Lutheran Confirmation 2008
Among the Commandments I break with regularity, #3 is a weekly offense. "Keeping the Sabbath holy" is tough for me, because I work in a church. You'd think it'd be a piece of cake--I'm in a house of worship every week at this time, so what's the problem?

I am the problem, or rather, my scattered brain is. The Sunday School hour is busy in the extreme (I try to arrive at church at least an hour early to prepare for the onslaught of little darlings at 9, and I still feel unready, often). Up until this year, I co-taught Confirmation in the morning too. We recently moved that class to Sunday evenings, which involves staying geared up for the entire day.

As I dart into church after leading the children's gathering, my pious thoughts run to my mic for the children's sermon (will it work?) and the $30 cash pressed into my hand as I pass a pew (for bingo? the youth group outing? our Sunday School charity project? Who just gave that money to me, anyway?) When Ken begins the organ prelude, I am still having whispered conversations about the bake sale after service. During the announcements, I'm always kicking myself for items I forgot to ask Pastor Kay to mention. The opening hymn is a fine time to wonder if I turned off the projector. And nothing like hearing the Gospel to remind me that I forgot to order new curriculum. At Communion, I reverently ponder whether I replaced the acolytes I'm taking to the mosque next week.

Many Sundays, I drive home and realize I've done everything at church BUT worship God.

I'm sure others have similar distractions at times, but for me this is an every Sunday problem. And it's further evidence that, so much of the time, I'm only half there, wherever I am. The rest of me is a) off in a mental corner, berating myself for my myriad missteps and mistakes b) making shopping lists c) generally woolgathering: hmmm, if I paint the kitchen cabinets white, the walls can't stay white...or can they?

Lord knows I try to focus (I really believe He does), but it feels like a losing battle, especially on the one day we are asked to step off the treadmill of the work week. All too soon, it’s Sunday night--I'm set to launch into another Monday, having taken no time to meditate or calm myself or even really think about my loving Creator.

I’ve (very) recently started taking Thursdays off. My goal on these days is to do no “church” work, but to read, write, have lunch with friends, etc. I sleep a little longer, and linger over my coffee. I’m thoroughly enjoying this total change of pace. And I’m wondering: can Thursday be my new Sunday? Can I stop beating myself up because it’s hard to focus on the “Sabbath,” and instead carve out my own moments to rest and spend some time with God?

Me, someday? Maybe?

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