There I sat, thinking ‘blog post, blog post… there must be something to say that I can say… blog post…’ wondering if the blogging bit of my brain is still in a moving box somewhere.
Various distractions. The knowledge that I didn’t want this to take to long as it’s a busy day… General feeling of being lost, and then it happened.
I felt myself do it. Deep breath, and start saying the Lord’s Prayer.
For years, I’ve used the Lord’s Prayer as a way to gain focus. I realise that this might be a dubious use of the Lords prayer, but it works. If I need to re-centre, find stable ground: deep breath, ‘Our Father…’
We need rituals like this.
On Saturday, I offered coffee at the rectory to anyone who wanted to get together to talk about particular themes that had come up in the sermon the week before, or about anything we’d been doing in worship in July. At some point, we got to talking about what happens before the service: how we prepare for worship, and it was the classic dilemma. Greeting people and hearing how they are is an important part of gathering. But if that goes on till the very second that the priest says ‘Grace and Peace to you’, then we’ve missed a stage. Most of us need a buffer zone between conversation and prayer — a way to shift gears so that we are able to be as present to God as we are to each other.
deep breath — Our Father…
I use it then too. Now, I’m the sort of person who likes a pretty big buffer zone. On those rare occasions when I simply ‘go to church’, I go almost ridiculously early. I go when few are gathered, as a way of getting real silence, and I begin with deep breath… Lord’s prayer. After that, come a whole range of things: a few specific prayers about the reality of that day; a naming of my restlessness or the shape of tensions, a naming of the things I hope and desire and resolve; and then a conscious drop into silence.
After that I resurface, look around, read the pew sheet, start deliberately noticing the people around me who (by now) have begun to arrive. By then I don’t mind if they say good morning, because I am already far enough ‘in’ that I can regain focus when I need to.
But even then there will come a time — a minute or two before the service — when I take off my glasses, close my eyes, and settle into anticipation.
Some of the people there on Saturday acknowledged how difficult it is to make space for both greeting/gathering and focusing. And I suspect each one of us has to find — and shape — our own way of doing this.
But what it a blog, if not a resource for sharing?
How do you handle that space between walking through the church door, and the first spoken words of the liturgy? What works for you?
One of the things I’m working on quite consciously right now is how we balance the needs of different personality types (as well as age groups) in worship, so I’m hoping all of you energetic extroverts there (Mother Ruth?) will also tell me if I’m missing the point, and you need to be able to talk right up to the very end.