9:00 pm is a key time in both our spiritual and our emotional health. It comes after the kids are in bed, our busy days are over, the homework is done, and the dishes are put away (well, maybe). Now it’s time to relax. What we do with this time is key.
9:00 pm is a time when connections with the people who are most important to our lives are either made or missed. We might use this time to make love with our spouses, play games with our teens, or connect with God in prayer. And we might then end the day with God’s peace in our hearts – and enough time for a good night’s sleep.
On the other hand, at 9:00 pm we might reach for a monster bowl of ice cream (followed perhaps by chips) and sit down to watch 3 straight shows on Netflix. That Netflix is revolutionizing our evenings! It allows us to spend even more time nurturing our screen addictions. Or we could play a shoot-‘em-up game on the PlayStation with some guy in Japan. Or we could frantically do the work we didn’t get too earlier because we didn’t organize our time.
No wonder it’s hard to pray when we wake up.
At 9:00 pm all our sloppy emotional habits come out. The unpeacefulness of our lifestyles is revealed, and even though we’re conscious of choosing stuff that’s bad for us, we just can’t ratchet down.
Try this: go outside and sit for 5 minutes. Just sit. Can’t do 5 minutes? OK, do 2. Listen to the natural world. It’s settling in; it’s evening things out. Robins and cardinals and quieting down, crickets and katydids are singing to you. Wind is caressing the stress off your face. God’s Spirit is evening you out.
In Benedict’s monasteries the 9:00 pm prayer is called “compline”. It’s the prayer after vespers at 6:00 pm, which Anglicans call “evensong”. Anybody interested in an evensong service? I’d start one if four people said yes.
Peace is a choice. Emotional health is a choice. Closeness with our families is a choice. What will you choose at 9:00 tonight?