Can I plead a time difference?
Well, here goes anyway.
1. Daily Prayer
I had a Celtic breviary, which I used for a good eight months or so during my first year of seminary. I loved the way it followed the cycle of the seasons, bidding farewell to summer, welcoming the return of the light in mid-winter, and so on. Eventually, I got so busy with life (part-time seminary, part-time work, full-time mom and spouse, part-time ministry interne…) I didn’t make time for it. I still have the breviary, which I look at longingly every time I run across it. I know, what am I waiting for?
2. Disciple Covenant
Some of you may be familiar with this. It’s a small-group discipline, based on John Wesley’s class meeting model, created (or refined) by David Lowes Watson. In a small group (5-12), you agree on 5-12 disciplines, in four areas—Worship, Devotion, Charity and Justice (at least one in each area). These are things that you agree to do, either on a regular basis or as a special project: pray or meditate daily, tithe monthly, begin a correspondence with a prisoner, recycle your cans and bottles, and so on. Then every week, for exactly an hour, you meet in your group and hold each other accountable for observing those disciplines. It sounds like a lot of work and in the beginning it is, but the results are astounding! I was forced to do it as part of my first year at seminary, then during our internships in the last two years we had to implement them in the churches where we were serving, I disliked it extremely for the first six months, then I sorta liked it. In my internship setting, I had an awesome group, and we rocked! It was a much better experience the second time around. We kept meeting all summer, even though we didn’t have to, and when I left, the group vowed to keep meeting. A lot of spiritual growth goes on in those Disciple groups!
3. Newspaper Reading
From the time I was in about 3rd grade, I was in the habit of reading at least parts of the paper. The comics, of course, but also a column called “Action Line,” which helped people find out how to deal with the gas company, or find a long-lost friend, or get a good doctor, or just answer an odd question (“What’s that statue on the corner of 4th and Main?” “Who is the main library named after?” “Is it true that a turkey can drown in the rain?”). Of course, we have the Internet and Google to take care of those questions now, but then there was no where else. I was fascinated (probably an early manifestation of my research jones). As I got older, I read more and more. Wherever I lived, I got the local paper—Washington Post (I still miss it!!), The Stars and Stripes European Edition (the armed forces paper; just enough content to finish reading it over a bowl of cereal), etc. The local paper in River City isn’t worth buying—we get it every once in a while, but I have no desire to subscribe. If there were a real paper, I’d subscribe. I do read a couple of papers online, but it just isn’t the same—especially on Sundays!
4. Bedtime Reading
DP still has trouble understanding this one, although she’s starting to pick it up, I’ve noticed (shhhh—pretend you don’t notice, maybe she’ll keep it up). It doesn’t have to be much, or for very long, but something interesting (but not too interesting, or I’ll never turn out the light). Right now it’s The Discoverers, by Daniel Boorstein. It takes my mind away from anything that has been fretting at me, and lets me relax. Then prayers and lights out!
I’m going back to this one. I’ve been reading On Becoming a Leader, by Warren Bennis, and he talks a lot about the value of reflection, of taking the time to think about what is happening, about mistakes that have been made, or successes, about your goals and your visions. My last year of seminary and first year of ministry I was very faithful in journaling, and during my coming-out as well. Journaling has a way of allowing you to vent, to reflect on things, to make the things that seem so huge and scary come down to their real size, and to let you celebrate good stuff, even if it seems teensy and minor to someone else. I have a wonderful software package (Life Journal) that lets you highlight concepts and bookmark ideas, chart your health, even do an autobiography. I don’t use all its incredible features. But my intention is to do so—and now my intention is out there in cyberspace, so y’all can hold my feet to the fire on it!