Today I began the day arguing with myself and hitting snooze. It is Monday. I know that my day will be full and will run late in the evening. I know that I need unhurried space. I know I need to work out. When I finally stumble into the gym, I’m greeted with a “hello, stranger” by a woman I know from days when I was a morning regular. As I elliptical away, I consider my fellow exercisers—mostly older people. My heart is warmed by more than the exertion: my heart is warmed as I see familiar faces and think about this unique community. I’m glad that I came to the gym.
Sometimes Mondays are hard: this one I struggle with motivation as I’m back at the apartment getting ready. After a bit of grumbling, I finally confess to God that I’m hesitant about things ahead of me in my day. On Monday I attend lunch at the junior high school. It can be an awkward and hard experience. I remind God of this and ask for a change in me. I finish getting ready and sit to read from James, pray through the day’s Common Prayer (Shane Claiborne), jot down names of some folks who come to mind to pray for and mark this quote: “We discovered that faith is not expecting that the Lord will miraculously give us whatever we ask, or feeling the security that we will not be killed and that everything will turn out as we want. We learned that faith is putting ourselves in His hands, whatever happens, good or bad. He will help us somehow.” (From twentieth-century martyrs Felipe and Mary Barreda, Common Prayer, p. 488-89)
Hurriedly, I gather my things and rush off to the office. Halfway there I realize I forgot to fix a lunch and gather some materials for a meeting that afternoon. I greet colleagues, and we laugh over a couple of stories in the main office. At my desk I write a thank you note for a donation to the youth group in honor of a man who had passed away this past year. From what I hear, he poured much of his life into the lives of teenagers.
At eleven, I walk the half mile to the junior high school. On the way I still myself, I notice the fall leaves dancing in the breeze, I ask for Holy Spirit’s presence in the lunch room. I take a lot of deep breaths. Around the lunch tables students and I talk about our lives, our quirks. Some students I know well, some I meet that day. A couple of students seem a bit more serious. One girl remained behind when all the others got up to take their trays. I’d met her a few weeks ago. “What’s up?” I say in passing. “Eh,” she replies. I stop and sit down. The cafeteria clears as I listen to her talk about what’s going on. It’s some hard stuff. After she finishes her pizza and tator-tots, I ask if I can pray with her. We pray in an empty cafeteria. I walk back to church with a heart full, thinking about the doors God opened during the couple of hours at the junior high and knowing how important it is to be present with students. I’m reminded of God’s faithfulness. I pray for the students with whom I talked.
I head home to gulp the forgotten lunch and gather the materials for the meeting. Back to the office with one hour for something, I make some reminders for upcoming things, I update my portion of the website, and I gather my thoughts for the meeting. Then, out the door to Mission Marshall Administration Meeting, which is a year old. Things are happening, though often in circular patterns. As we sit around the table we toss around ideas, discuss opportunities and also problems and struggles. In the midst of the conversation, we have some moments of wide-eyed awe that things are falling into place. There is a feeling of thankfulness and forward-moving stirrings in the air. I chat with a pastor in the parking lot about his recent trip to Ethiopia, and he fills me in on our cooperative work there, telling me about our mutual Ethiopian ministry partners and friends.
With a narrow window of time, I stop in at Subway, gulp down a sandwich and head to East Texas Baptist University to meet up with students and student workers for a concert. I see different students than I saw earlier in the day. The day closes with music and laughter and smiles with students and youth workers. At 10 p.m. I’m driving home, wondering at the fullness of the day, giving thanks, and looking forward to bed.
Brooke Holloway is minister of youth and community missions at Central Baptist Church, Marshall, Texas.