There’s this apocryphal story from the high school I attended, TCS, wherein our faithful and frightening (maybe just to me–her expectations and deadlines helped me through college, but were so intimidating as a 17-year-old) Senior English teacher, Mrs. Markwood, agreed to a lunchtime meeting with one of our more challenging fellow students…
According to the legend, the student darkened the classroom doorway–Mrs. Markwood’s desk being located in the opposite corner of the room–and our beloved teacher, having not quite caught her breath from the last class, exclaimed, “Oh dear… Wait there a minute–I’m not prayed up enough to meet with you yet.” Reportedly, she returned to her desk chair, bowed her head for a solid five minutes, and then ushered the student in for their meeting.
I suspect the story was shared later that afternoon as a point of amusement on the student’s part–how could someone be so earnest as to chew up meeting time with prayer time?
Now (doesn’t that always happen when we grow up and look back?), I find myself enlisting Mrs. Markwood’s phrase–I haven’t had the courage to say it to any parishioners yet–but I have started sometimes carving out a few intentional minutes of prayer before meetings which I do not relish attending (and even meetings I *do* relish attending).
In the phrase is the admission that it is not on my own patience and strength and graciousness that I deal with people–only through power, resolve, energy that comes from somewhere else is anyone able to live and behave with patience and compassion and joy.
Prayer is truly one of the most important things I learned from my teachers at Toledo Christian; acknowledging our need for peace beyond what we can white-knuckle for ourselves, and seeking out the source of that energy, peace, patience, and joy.