My church is on the brink of closing.
It has been for years, I'm told.
Last winter, we lost heat, and we can't really spend another winter squeezed into a Sunday School room.
So, we pray.
And God provides, a little at a time, as our need is greatest.
Noon today will mark the end of a 24-hour prayer vigil at my church.
24 hours, 24 people, each praying for an hour apiece.
Not a bad feat for a congregation of only 40.
I signed up for three am, because I figured it would be the hardest slot to fill.
I forgot to bring my watch.
Of course, I knew that I didn't really need a watch; I just had to leave at four am when the next person showed up to relieve me.
But it was difficult not knowing if I had been kneeling for four or forty minutes.
And the dead silence of the massive sanctuary allowed the slightest noise to echo all around.
Like the ticking of that clock that I couldn't see.
(I'll confess, I went looking for it once, on a stretch break.
It had the wrong time.)
My mind wandered, and I prayed again.
I meditated for a while, but got lost in my thoughts, and went back to my prayer list.
I wondered how people do this for an hour every day, as I searched for more words to ask for the same things.
And I wished that I wasn't so afraid to break the silence, because it would be easier to concentrate out loud.
I sang a hymn.
Falteringly, quietly, unable to let my voice fill the room.
With no accompaniment to keep me on key.
I sat in silence.
I tried to quiet my mind, and be at peace.
Tried, but came nowhere close.
My mind is a busy, little place.
But I was out of words, and the only thing I had left to offer was my feeble attempt at silence.
Then the door opened, and the four o'clock relief arrived.
They had coffee and donuts, and were ready to start their day.
I went home to end mine.