I just came in from my morning walk.
My devotions led me to this.
Usually when I shave I start on the sides and work to the middle.
Every now and then I will start in the middle and work out.
I’m a wild and crazy guy like that.
Yesterday as I was preparing my shaving equipment I entered a time warp. It was 1972 and I was in basic training at Fort Jackson, SC. A miserable place if there ever was one.
I had maybe three whiskers on my chin.
The drill sergeant woke us at 4;00 a.m. to teach us how to shave.
Thing is, young people in 1972 had a rebellious side. We gathered before the wall length mirrors over the sinks in the communal latrine. After the class the platoon started peppering him when he asked if there were any questions. Do you go up or down on your chin? Do you use the same amount of lather on each surface? Do you change the blade weekly? How much bleeding is normal?
It went on for quite a while.
The drill sergeant, quite a genius, finally figured out what was happening, said a drill sergeant word or two, and told us inspection would be soon and we better be ready - in so many words.
All in all I suspect that hour of shaving lesson cost the government a couple of thousand dollars.
One platoon now. You do the math.
But this isn’t about that.
It is about our (or maybe it’s just me) need for routine.
Not in all things of course. Adventure is good. But in some core things. Some things you do in the midst of adventures too.
Habit if you will.
Not in everything but in the things that bring peace.
A book I read several decades ago had a line in it that read “the only change worthy of the name takes place on the level of habit.”
You do it as naturally as you breathe.
For some, and I certainly hope most of us, no planning goes into brushing our teeth.
I have to make a conscious decision to not shave.
And I love those epiphanies when I realize I was thankful, or used by God, or moved to tears, or busted a gut laughing, just at the graces around me that I have come to expect out of habit.
It is my habit, you see, to take these walks.
Sometimes I start way out on the edges.
Sometimes I get crazy and start at the core.
But I have a queasy feeling all day, and bad breath to boot, if I don’t live the habits that matter.
As our Friend walked with me on the coolest Memorial Day morning in my memory we fell into an easy rhythm. It was almost as easy as breathing. I was telling him how natural it feels to be in his presence in these predawn meetings we have. He smiled at me the way he does and said…
“That poor drill sergeant.”