We had a beautiful, unusually warm and sunny February day in Wisconsin yesterday. The perfect day for a long walk along Lake Michigan. Sort of.

Yesterday was my first walk without my walking buddy. All day I’d been trying to talk myself into going, but I kept putting it off. Finally, I got up, got ready and headed out the door. It was strange. That was the first time in nearly ten years that I’ve gone on a walk without our standard poodle in tow. I felt almost naked without her.

A couple of blocks down from the house, I caught myself waiting at the street corner. I was just standing there, with no traffic coming. After a half-minute or so, I realized that I’d been waiting for Schatzie to obediently come and sit next to me as she’d always done. I choked back some tears and crossed the street. Try as I might, I found myself falling into the same old routine at every corner. Somehow, it just didn’t feel “right” to walk straight across the street without pausing at the corner.

Don’t we all have routines that we follow mindlessly? Day after day we do the same things over and over without even thinking about it. It seems so natural. But when something comes along and distrupts that routine, we really feel the void.

I wonder if we do that in our prayer lives, too. We routinely utter our morning and evening prayers, absent-mindedly genuflect at Church, cross ourselves in petition, passively listen to the Gospel. We pray and reverence automatically because we’re used to it.

What would happen if those routines were somehow altered or prohibited altogether? How would our lives change? How would we change? Would we pause at the street corner not immediately realizing why?

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