On my first day of high school, I lost my way to finding a class. Kind of typical, right? A new student gets to a new school and can’t find where he is supposed to be. Those who know me well know that I like to arrive early to meetings and events, so the idea of coming in late to my first day of Freshman Religion was unsettling. In addition, since this was a boarding school, I was now 800 miles away from my home and surrounded with a totally different atmosphere. I eventually found an adult who I presumed to be a teacher and asked him to point me in the right direction. It turned out that the gentleman that I asked was the teacher for the class I was trying to find. Relieved to have coincidentally bumped into him, I neglected to really pay attention to the route to the classroom when we walked. I ended up practicing it a few times before bed so I’d have it ready for the next day!
What am I getting at here? Well, if you might could tell above, my 14-year old self was feeling a bit apprehensive about a handful of things; a feeling that many of us have probably had at some point and will experience in our lives. Realistically, was something bad going to happen if I was late to class on the first day? Maybe. Maybe not. But, in the bigger picture context at the time, there were scary feelings of embarking on a new adventure that was a brand new life away from home and I knew not what to expect.
In these times that may create apprehension and anxiety, it is possible that we feel such a way because we know not all of what we’d like to know. We get comfort in knowing information that leads us to definite conclusions about what lies ahead- I know, I do. How long are we definitely going to be practicing physical distancing? When will everything return to “normal”? Will it be like exactly as we left it? The answer that I am teaching myself to be comfortable in saying is “I don’t know.” And I’ve learned that is OK. So, instead of choosing to be anxious about current events, I’m working on shifting my focus on how I can best contribute to the present and what is happening now. Thinking about what actions I can take to communicate, to love, and to be there for someone. I’m going to choose to do my part in writing our present while God prepares our future.
One of my favorite verses of scripture is Philippians 4:6-7. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” While we often conclude our Sunday services with this text before going out and letting our service begin, these verses also remind me very much of the service of compline. As is “night prayer”, the last office of the day allows us to sit in time, to be only in the present and communicate with God as we leave our worries and anxieties of the day behind and to rest.
Our choir sings a beautiful anthem based on this text by American composer, Michael John Trotta, entitled “And Peace Shall Guard You”. I encourage you to listen to this gorgeous acapella work that text paints so beautifully.