The Lenten devotional post, in five minutes or less

Among others, I was requested to make a submission to the FOCUS churches Lenten devotional calendar/booklet. I received the email because “you have either submitted an entry in the past [I had not] or have demonstrated interest in writing for public consumption [maybe THAT’S it]… There are texts assigned for each day and… parameters…for this project.”

After failing to respond, five days later, On January 31, I was asked if I had received the invitation. Eventually I acceded to do one entry, about 2 paragraphs, based on 1 Corinthians 2:10-16. “It has Paul talking about spiritual vs those who are unspiritual. Those who are spiritual understand that which is spiritual, but those who are unspiritual see the gifts of God’s spirit as foolishness. Why? Because spirit is required to understand these gifts, and they don’t have it. And we [followers of Christ] have the mind of Christ. Below are instructions… about doing this. Can you have it to me by Feb 10? I’m guessing you could create it right now in 5 minutes. Or you can live with it a few days as [the editor] suggests.”

And somehow, the notion that I could churn something out “in 5 minutes” really ticked me off, so much, in fact that I mentioned it to my wife when I got home. She said that it was a compliment to my skilled writing, or some such. (Yes, I know I’m being petty here; sometimes I’m petty.)

Here’s something that has, for a long time, been true of me. I hate long, or even moderately long deadlines. Invariably, one of two things will happen: I will do the thing right away, because I don’t want to forget, or become too busy at the point of the deadline. If I have an intro to write for ABC Wednesday, it’s usually done at least the week before. When I’m going to contribute to Flashmob Fridays, all but one of the contributions I’ve sent by Monday.

Or, I’ll forget altogether, or in the alternative, just run out of time. February 10 comes, and in my pique, the booklet had TOTALLY left my consciousness, until I get a reminder.

So, I take more than five minutes – indeed my entire lunch hour (or more) – to write 187 words; the maximum was 250. I needed to find the right tactic. And now that I’ve finished ranting about it, here is what I submitted:

“I’ve been a librarian for nearly two decades. One of the things I have noticed over the last several years is that many people seem to think that virtually all the information they will ever need can be found by going on the Internet and Googling for it. In fact, Google and other search engines do not always retrieve what’s known as ‘gray literature’, which is defined as ‘research that is either unpublished or has been published in non-commercial form.’ Often, it is that particular dissertation, government report or policy statement that provides the best answer to a query.

“Likewise, there is human knowledge. Some folks believe that’s all there is, and are skeptical of any other source of data. But others have been blessed by the Spirit to access the ‘gray literature’ of Christ’s spirituality. Best of all, one doesn’t need a computer or other device to access this database, and one can download it at any time, day or night. And the wisdom to answer life’s pressing questions can be found in unexpected clarity.”

I also had to add a sentence prayer.

“May we be transformed by the greater wisdom offered to us graciously by the Spirit of God.”

I have no idea if it’s any good. It’s not something I’ve done before. But it DID make it into the booklet. If I do it again, I’ll definitely budget at least TEN minutes to the project.

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3 thoughts on “The Lenten devotional post, in five minutes or less

  1. I’ve been guilty of the mindset the “Google knows everything,” but really don’t believe it because the Internet is only as good as what’s provided. And that spans the gamut of everything from accuracy to total lunacy. One spiritual gift is the gift of discernment…much needed in this day and age of electronic information overload. And you’re so right about people not understanding what it sometimes takes to complete a project. As Mark Twain said, “it takes about three weeks to write an impromptu speech.” 🙂

  2. I would say it is pretty good, but suspect that it isn’t the five minutes it takes to write, but the thinking time before you even sit down at the keyboard. At least that’s true in my case.

    If I have a problem with the sentiment, it’s the premise that someone needs to have religious faith in order to be spiritual. For me it is entirely possible to have an affinity with the philosophy of a religion without necessarily sharing its faith, if that makes sense.

  3. It sounds to me that someone saying to you that you can write something “in 5 minutes” is for me when people ask, “can’t you just push a button?” to do a page layout for a publication. I always feel de-valued and diminished when someone says that.

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