Where Are You ?

By Ryan Pemberton

It’s nearly eight o’clock in the morning, and I’m listening to the whir of the coffee grinder as dark, roasted beans churn. Steam is starting to rise from the kettle. I decide not to turn on the morning new. NOT YET, I tell myself. Soon, I’m pouring a thread of water in circular motions over the ground coffee, mounded just slightly in a paper cone. Water begins to drip and fill the glass base.  As I wait I crack open my morning prayer book, find the days readings and begin to read quietly. This morning I am on schedule takin in Scripture before the news hots my ears.

I take a seat in my wingback chair, close my eyes, and focus on my breathing- in and out. As my breathing slows, I begin to pray, focusing on many things heavy on my mind and heart, and then offering them into the only hands that can bear the weight. I spend some time in silence.

And then, I turn on the news, and the emails, and everyone else the day involves. At some point in the afternoon, i break for a run. I change my clothes, put  in my ear buds, and listen to the Pray As You Go App. Peaceful music and scripture was over my mind as I run around the lake. I am invited to reflect on the text, to offer to Jesus whatever burdens or gifts the Scripture brings to mind. I feel cleansed. Renewed. Of course these are the good days. 

There are many days when this liturgical rhythm simply doesn’t work. Either because I jump straight from bed to into a project I left unfinished from the night before, or because there is simply no time for an afternoon run, there are many days when my daily liturgy is disrupted. And i am increasingly aware of its cost. 

Recently I was thinking of the story of Genesis where our first parents are hiding after those fateful bites of fruit. I was thinking about how God is described as “walking in the Garden in the cool of the evening”, one of my favorite images in Scripture. And i was thinking about God’s question “Where are you”?

On thesse busy days when I jettisoned my morning or afternoon liturgy for the sake of an email or a project, I wonder if God asks the same of me . “Where are you?”

I like to think that this account of God walking in the cool of the evening suggests that God was in the habit of meeting the first humans here. As though an evening stroll and conversation were part of God’s own daily liturgy. I like to picture God still taking those evening strolls, or sitting alongside us during our morning coffee and prayer, eager to meet us on the way.

But some days we hide, out of sheet busyness, exhaustion, guilt or shame, like our first parents. Whatever the reason, I imagine God’s question to us is the same question God raised in the garden. “Where were you?” 

I like to think its not just for our sakes that we open our morning devotional, spend time in silent prayer, or listen to Scripture on an afternoon walk or run. Perhaps God, too, intends to meet us here.