One Minute

I used to think that one minute was a very short period of time. It never really dawned on me how long a minute could feel until I took a public speaking course in college during my senior year. On the very first day of class, the instructor announced that each of us would have to walk up to the front and stand in front of everyone for an entire minute. Take in everyone’s eyes, make or don’t make eye contact, but stand up there in a silent room full of people. I have never been a shy person, but that was an awfully long minute. I remember feeling the vibes of tension spreading throughout the room as people contemplated the idea of surviving that one minute and worrying about when to go so they could go back to hiding in their respective seats.

In the land of fitness, one minute can also feel like an eternity. Max reps of anything in a minute can go on and on, seemingly. Mobilizing a body position in yoga or while stretching also makes me question the length of 60 seconds — does it get longer and shorter sometimes, like the length of sunlight in a day?

Last year I remember a speaker at church sharing a revelation he had while traveling. He said he had thought for most of his life that prayer was something that “needed” to last for a while, or else it didn’t count. So unless there was a good chunk of time in his day set aside for prayer time, then it just wasn’t going to happen. Finally it occurred to him that there is no rule that says prayers can’t be short and still meaningful, and he developed his own practice of one minute of prayer each day. That could look like one minute of true silence — no radio, television, or other background noise. It could be one minute of simply feeling gratitude in his heart. Maybe one minute of repeating a one-line prayer (similar to a koan for some people who meditate). Me personally? As a little girl, I used to be good at saying my prayers before bedtime in my head (“Now I lay me down to sleep…”) and on occasion I still do that. But I was intrigued by this concept of one minute of prayer and tried it out last year, especially when Husband and I were living apart and the days seemed long. Every afternoon, coming home from work, I would wait to turn on the radio or plug in my iPod in the car to spend a minute in silence. Usually when I checked the clock, one minute had turned into three to five minutes (the length of one song, of course), and I was surprised to find that I started to enjoy the silence more.

I know that it is worth one minute out of the 1440 minutes in a day to spend one minute in prayer. One minute to focus my energy on a relationship to my faith that can be so very easy to neglect. Because one of the markers of Lent is prayer, there is no time like the present to renew my commitment to one minute of prayer each day and see where it might lead me.

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