Why yes, I did miss my 4-year-old’s first day of preschool. For some reason I wrote on my calendar that it began two days after it actually did. I discovered my mistake when the school called, asking where my child was.
I am a creature of habit. Give me a routine and I can juggle almost anything – or at least I could until this past year when all my flying plates came crashing down and I realized that I needed to slow down, do less. Productivity is overrated. The idea that we only have so much time, so many days, so we should spend each one to its fullest stresses me out. Life is not a marketplace. Days are not currency. And the things that matter most cannot typically be computed in a ledger or checked off a list.
While I do aspire to get my children to school on time, the habit I most want to cultivate is living in the presence of God. Lately, I’ve been feeling really down. Hurricanes in the South. Wildfires in the West. Massive flooding in Asia. Famine in East Africa. Genocide in Myanmar. Everything in North Korea.
Last week 150 Christians at an all-night prayer vigil were among more than 1,000 people crushed by a massive mudslide in Sierra Leone. Christianity Today reported that bodies washed up the coastline 90 miles away in Guinea. I fumble to make theological sense of it all.
But when my understanding fails, one habit sustains me: praying the Lord’s Prayer, found in Matthew 6:9-13. In it, Christ affirms that we have a heavenly father who is actively working on our behalf to bring his kingdom to earth – a kingdom in which justice and peace will reign. Rather than fulfilling my bucket list, I’m learning to fill God’s, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
The Lord’s Prayer also leads me to believe that God’s will isn’t yet done on earth as it is in heaven. Or why would Christ instruct us to request it? An opposing power also is at work. And so, when too much rain falls, winds blow, fires scorch, and a church is buried in mud, Christ directs us to pray in a way that aligns all of creation with God’s purpose. Praying this way also affirms whose side we are on.
And so this week, after dropping off my son for his first (second) day of pre-school, rather than sitting down at my desk to see how much work I could produce, I made a cup of tea and took a slow walk, adding my petitions to Christ’s as I prayed the Lord’s prayer. Try it first thing before getting out of bed, on your morning drive or waiting in line at the grocery store or doctor’s office. When all other routines fail, such prayer focuses my faith and points to a day when, as the writer of Revelation said, the kingdom of this world will finally become the kingdom of our Lord; and he will reign forever (Revelation 11:15).
Meadow Rue Merrill, the author of Redeeming Ruth: Everything Life Takes, Love Restores, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine.