I grew up with a coach for a father.
My dad was the first head coach of the first baseball team my high school ever had; a school that now boasts 3000 plus students. He coached baseball, basketball, and football professionally, but he was pretty good at teaching just about every sport I ever attempted.
Growing up as a coach’s son, and as a somewhat gifted athlete, I received plenty of instruction throughout my childhood (and who are we kidding…I’m still getting it. Once a coach, always a coach). My dad took every opportunity he saw to teach, correct, or alter how I approached a task at hand.
However, out of all the words and phrases I heard my dad repeat time after time, practice after practice, year after year, the two words I heard most often we definitely the F-word and the A-word…
Focus and Attitude.
That’s what you were thinking I was going to say, wasn’t it?
My dad used these words more than any I can remember, and back then I HATED THEM!
But I wish I had the capacity to understand the wisdom of these two words like I do today.
It’s week 2 of Lent and our journey with the Seven Sacred Pauses, and this week is my absolute favorite pause on the entire list:
The Blessing Hour
also known as Terce or the Midmorning Pause.
The Blessing Hour comes only a couple of hours after most of us have started our work for the day. It may feel like you just found a rhythm in your work and already you are being asked to stop, to set it down for a minute, and to take a break.
No, it may not be convenient.
Yes, it may feel like an interruption.
You may be tempted to skip it, but I beg you not to.
In this pause you are being asked to stop, to set down the work you just started, and to take a break.
This is a time to turn to God and give Him the gift of our focus and our attitude.
The midmorning hour is the time when the Holy Spirit first came upon the disciples on the day we call Pentecost. It was a major shift in the history of God’s people,
An interruption in the world of man.
When the Holy Spirit manifested Himself in the spirits of men and women, all the barriers were broken. All things suddenly became possible for us.
The Blessing Hour is about living in all the possibilities of the day, if even for just a moment.
Our daily lives are so filled with struggle, toil, and just plain ole’ work, it is very easy to become buried beneath the burden of it all. If we were to take a step back and watch ourselves at this time of day, we would often find a human so engrossed in the toil to succeed, to accomplish, to progress,
that we start to look less than human.
We start to look like machines.
We quickly become programs designed to fulfill a task.
With the Blessing Hour, we remember who we truly are:
We are humans, God’s most beloved creature in the universe.
We have breath in our lungs, feeling in our fingertips, and love in our hearts.
We are not machines, we are flesh and blood and soul.
It is also a time to remember the truth and purpose of our work.
It is time to recall that our work is really our love poured out.
Working at Costco has been great for me, because every morning at precisely two hours after the start of our shift, we are forced to take a 15-minute break with all our coworkers.
Early on, I used this as a time to catch up on whatever novel I was reading, until I remembered my friend Macrina Wiederkehr and the Seven Sacred Pauses.
I started taking my copy of Seven Sacred Pauses to work and practicing the Blessing Hour during our break,
and it changed everything.
My work stocking shelves and moving pallets was no longer a means to an end. It was no longer just a way to make money so I could be a writer on the side. Pausing to remember these two vital truths;
- that I am more than what I do,
- and that how I do it is an offering of love to those around me,
it transformed my work that morning into a joy.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it was still difficult work. I still wrestled with the question,
“Is this really where I am at 30 years old? Stocking shelves at Costco?”
But each time I finished my midmorning prayer, I gained new emotional and spiritual strength toward my work. I became more excited to move pallets and deal with difficult coworkers than I was at the day’s beginning.
The Blessing Hour helped me see that my calling is not just to be a writer. Nor is it to “change the world” by doing something big and transformative. My calling in life is to work at whatever I do with love so that those around me may have their lives warmed by the light and gentle flame burning within me.
And just like a fire in a dark world–even a small fire–I found people being slowly drawn to me.
Coworkers asked questions about my life and my faith. Managers smiled and laughed and thanked me for working hard. People that carried difficult attitudes opened up about their difficult lives.
Simply by pausing to remember that I am loved by God and that my work is an offering,
He began using me to show others they were loved, and that their work was a gift too.
This week, as you enter into the rhythms of your day and your work, take a break to remember
this is not all that you are.
Recognize what you are bringing with you to your work.
Are you carrying anger from an argument with a loved one the day before? Are you holding stress from the mounting pressures all around you? Is your work littered with the fears of your personal life?
These things affect our ability and efforts to live and work with joy. Wiederkehr calls them “bad fertilizer for the fruit I want to bring forth from my day’s labor.”
Pause to remember, you are not what you do.
Remembering you are loved, that God gives His very Spirit to you if we pause to receive it,
Well…that makes whatever we do a blessing, and something I can look to with joy, peace, and excitement at all the possibilities of this day.
“I dwell in possibility”
– Emily Dickinson
MIDMORNING PAUSE PRAYER GUIDE
(from Seven Sacred Pauses by Macrina Wiederkehr)
“Oh, Spirit of the circling hours,
Work through me that I may be Your love poured out.
Sacred Song (or choose a song of your own. Use the lyrics as a prayer)
Blessings as the day unfolds, blessings of the morning,
Pausing in the fullness of the moment, our grateful hearts
Sing a morning song on this holy ground.
Sing a morning song to precious life all around.
Blessings of the rising sun. Blessings of the morning,
Pausing in the fullness of the moment, our grateful hearts.
Sing a morning song on this holy ground. Sing a morning song to precious life all around.
Blessings. Blessings. Blessings of the morning.
I dwell in possibility. (Emily Dickinson)
Young, the day–awake, my heart.
Wide open and awake
To all the possibilities waiting
In the hours of this day.
O Spirit of the circling hours,
Bless me that I may be a blessing,
Work through me, that I may be
Your love poured out upon the earth.
Creator of all that is, be blessed.
Lover of all that is, be blessed.
Sanctifier of all that is, be blessed.
As You encircle our lives this day,
I dwell in possibility!
Prayer of the Hour
The fresh beginnings of this day embrace us as we stop for this midmorning pause. Bless the work that awaits us. Anoint our hands, hearts, and minds as we joyfully enter into the heart of this day. Make our spirits lucid, attentive, and open to all that can be. Breathe on us and strengthen us for our pilgrimage through the day. Come into our potential with Your wind and flame. In Christ’s name, we pray.
If you are finding this helpful, you might enjoy checking out my book, Giving Up Sunday where I talk extensively about the importance of remembering who you are and practicing being over doing.
Additionally, I want to encourage you to consider purchasing your own copy of Seven Sacred Pauses by Macrina Weiderkehr. She goes into much more detail about the idea behind each pause, some things to consider as you practice the pauses, and gives dozens of psalms, poems, and prayers to help guide you. It has truly changed my life and I believe it could do the same for you.