The Five Longest Minutes

I tried an experiment on my second visit of the evening to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. I set the timer on my phone for five minutes, and I spent five minutes in silence, not reading anything, not saying anything, not looking my phone. It was just me sitting in a pew in semi-darkness for five minutes.

Five long minutes.

It’s amazing how society has conditioned us to need almost constant stimuli from the radio, television, tablets, internet, and smart phones. Our attention span is so much shorter than it was even twenty years ago.

It’s good for the soul to be silent.

I think of it like rebooting a computer every so often. It helps it to run more smoothly and to reset the equilibrium when things get a bit off-kilter.

We need rebooting periodically. That’s what silence and meditation are for.  That’s what prayer and fasting are for. That’s why God instituted the Sabbath as a day of rest, although historically His people haven’t been very good at using that day for the purpose of which it was intended.

I’m not very good at any kind of silence. That five minutes seemed a lot longer to me than five minutes. It definitely seemed a lot longer than five minutes spent on Pinterest or Instagram. I’ve been known to waste way more than five minutes scrolling through the posts on Facebook at the end of the day.

Silence takes discipline, something that the culture around us seems to treat with disdain. You don’t see or hear many advertisements extolling the virtues of discipline and self-denial. Usually, it’s quite the opposite.

So there I was in that quiet space for five whole minutes, not saying anything, not reading anything, praying as I felt led. It was refreshing and soul-cleansing. I felt more relaxed and less anxious. I felt at peace with myself and with God.

I should probably do that more often.

 

Friends and Pins and Stuff

friends-quote

I have a Pinterest account. I think I’ve established that fact.

I will go a while without pinning anything and then I will pin for 30 minutes straight. Or something like that. I’ve never actually timed my pinning sessions.

Lately, I’ve been pinning a lot of Friends- themed pins. It’s still hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that the last episode of that show aired 10 years ago. 10 years.

In my mind, 1994 was 10 years ago, not 2004. It’s like I have a 10-year block in my brain. And I am really not ready for 1984 to be 30 years in the past.

I don’t feel 40-something. Most of the time I feel 30-something (or even 20-something on really good days). The joke is that you feel like you’re in your 20’s until you hang out with actual 20-somethings, then you feel your own age again.

So back to Friends. I still love watching the re-runs. All those characters were so perfectly cast and each one had his or her own quirks and faults and strong points. Like me. I’m sure I have my strengths and weaknesses like anybody else.

I think we all have to realize that as imperfect as we are, so is everybody else around us. If I can give myself grace for not being perfect and for committing the occasional blunder or two, I can do the same for others.

It’s easy to nurse the wounds and play the martyr and hold grudges. Somehow, it feels better. But it’s not the better way. Jesus showed that the better way is forgiveness. The better way is turning the other cheek. The better way is loving your enemies.

Notice I didn’t say the easier way. Usually, the better way is the harder way because it goes against my natural inclinations. I’d rather treat others like they treat me and not give those who don’t treat me right the time of day.

But ultimately, it’s not about how others treat me. It’s about how Jesus treated me when I was a stranger and an alien and an enemy. That’s my new standard now.

And no, I didn’t expect to go from 90’s TV sitcoms to heavy theology in one blog. That’s just how I roll sometimes.