There is an intersection here in town that I pass through at least twice a day, if not more. It is the corner of Bartow and Main Streets (where Etowah drive splits off). On one corner is the police station, opposite that is First Presbyterian Church (my church). Working our way around are the Shaw-Hankins offices, and then Regions Bank. It is a slice of our city that is almost always humming with activity. In a study done several years ago, 940 18 wheelers passed through that stoplight on any given day. And it has become a new place for me to pray.
I blame our Sunday School class for this practice. We are studying a book called “Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in our Everyday Lives” by Wayne Muller. We are reading about, talking about, and trying new practices of Sabbath-making each week. And about 3 or 4 weeks ago, we read the practice of offering “guerrilla blessings.” The idea is to bless people around you, unaware. Maybe you do it at the grocery store while you wait in line, maybe you do it at a soccer game. One class member is doing it in the car-rider pick up line at the primary school. I decided to do it in a place where I often find myself antsy or frustrated (because I am usually late when I get stopped by the red lights here.). “May you be blessed, may you feel peace” runs through my head as I look at each car, each driver. “May you be safe, may you be calm” is my silent whisper to the police cars. “May you learn and may you grow” is sent from my heart to the school busses as they zoom by. And, as I look to my right and see the church office with the staff cars out front, I send a prayer to their drivers, and to our church family, as well.
I now enter this intersection grateful for the red lights (well, more often than not.). I picture the intersection as a “God Zone” where all who pass through are covered in prayer. May you know peace, safety, learning, comfort, joy. In all of this, I have found a space for God to enter into my day – it is a gateway to the day – a prayer for what will come. On the way home it is the place I leave the worries of my heart that keep me up at night. “May you be happy, may you know peace.” It is almost impossible to be frustrated with the driver in front of you who is going straight (and you want to turn right) while you are praying for them. It is almost impossible to roll your eyes at the driver who makes an illegal turn when you are praying that they will be safe. And when you se a police officer and pray for them to have a day that is free from harm, it is hard to speed.
I thought this practice was crazy. I thought I was crazy for trying it. I was wrong. In the middle of a busy day, when I would not otherwise stop, God enters in and turns my attention our community, to the people in my neighborhood, and to God. Somehow, that does not seem so crazy after all. May you know happiness, may you know peace.