Thursday, August 20, 2009

Quiet Time, Showers and Blindness

There is a sort of conventional wisdom that says profound thoughts come from sitting on the toilet. The sitcom “Scrubs” pokes fun at this in an episode in which the janitor installs an “epiphany toilet” on the roof of the hospital: . But, for me, the best place for profound thinking is the shower. I’m not sure why, although I suspect that is partly because I frequently take a shower right after I finish praying and reading the Bible. So, I suppose, it’s no surprise that today’s shower brought forth this profound comparison: Taking a shower is like daily quiet time.

You may be thinking, “Why on earth would a shower be like quiet time?” Or maybe you’re saying, “Well, of course it is, and why didn’t you think of this sooner?” Just in case you’re one of those thinking more in the why vein, I’ll tell you, and for those of you who think you know, you may be surprised, because here’s my reason: Both of these are something I religiously do daily but which I also tend to want to avoid. There are some obvious aspects to this, and some not so obvious. Sometimes I don’t really feel like I need a shower or my time seeking God, but logic tells me that whether or not I feel needy, there is benefit to doing it anyway and it just plain must be done. Sometimes I just do not want to take the time required for showering or seeking God, because I am anxious to move on to other things. And sometimes I am not looking forward to dealing with unpleasant issues. In the shower, this might be shaving my legs, which is one of those annoying chores that goes with being a woman. In seeking God, this might be confronting some bad behavior I need to change. None of these things stops me from doing what needs to be done, but instead keeps me from getting to it as quickly or with a willing spirit.

It occurs to me that in both cases, sometimes I dread taking a shower or spending God time, not because of the action itself, but because of what comes afterwards. In the case of the shower, this means deciding what to wear, a process I hate. To get around this, I made a deal with myself that rather than spending 30 minutes trying things out and exhibiting my tendency toward extreme indecision, I would put on the first thing I saw or thought of and stop there. It works pretty well most of the time, but I still have a bit of reluctance about it. Similarly, what comes after my quiet time is sometimes the need to put into practice what I have just learned, or to wear what I thought about, in a sense. If I have faced a difficult issue or made a life-changing realization through seeking God, I cannot just walk away as if it never happened, although I’ll be honest, sometimes I try to.

Now to the more obvious comparison: Both showers and God-time make us clean, and frequently in ways we cannot necessarily see. We know that sometimes we cannot tell for ourselves how badly we need to be clean. We cannot always smell ourselves, but on the chance that others might smell what we can’t, we shower. I think prayer and Bible reading work in the same way. We do not always know what God needs to do in us, but we seek him, and then he does his work in us in ways that we cannot always see. He makes us cleaner on the inside, just like the shower gets us clean on the outside.

Ok, in the end, maybe it’s not so profound, but isn’t it a little fun to think about? In case you just said “Yes” or even “Yeah, I guess, maybe,” I’ll tell one more thing I thought about in the shower today: Blindness. When I take a shower, I have to take my glasses off, so I can’t really see much except colors and rough shapes. I find my way because I’m pretty careful to keep everything in its place, but sometimes I have to feel my way around a bit—like when the shampoo and conditioner get switched around or moved, and I have to feel the shape of the bottle to figure out which is which. Or if something falls on the floor, I have to close my eyes to keep the water from getting in and feel around to find whatever fell because I can’t see it. If I could wear my glasses or keep my eyes open, things would be easy to find and the whole process might be quicker, but I can’t and I just have to deal with that. I trust that it’s there somewhere and I keep going until I find it. I think our spiritual life is like this, too, only in a much bigger way because there is so much we can’t see. For instance, we can’t see what’s going on in someone’s mind or heart. Sometimes we think we can, but really we can’t. Nor can we see what’s going to happen next year or tomorrow or even an hour from now. We can predict, and sometimes we do pretty well at that, but we never know for sure because things can all change in an instant. We are walking through life like people without their glasses on and even sometimes with their eyes closed. And because of this sometimes we bump into things and get hurt. But we trust that moving forward brings us closer to God and closer to wherever we need to be, and so we keep going…and going, and going.

Which brings us back to showers and quiet time. Both are vitally important, so we keep doing them. . Ok, maybe not “vitally,” exactly. You will not die if you skip either one…at least not right away…and once in awhile I give myself a day off from one or the other. But I almost always notice the difference when I do, and I would hate to see what I would be like if I went several days without either one. Both my body and my attitudes would start to stink! Not that I don’t have my moments of stinkiness anyway, but I do my best to be preventative as much as I can, and wash daily. It’s the least I can do.

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