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“Praying With My Legs”

I would have been a crummy monk. I’m an activist, not a contemplative - it’s in my DNA. My mom rose early and never sat down again until bedtime. We ate our meals in rocking chairs with TV trays; a fork was in one hand and a book in the other.

I like churches like Southside - churches of healthy theology dressed in denim and running shoes.

The runaway-slave-turned-author-and-activist Frederick Douglass once said, I prayed for twenty years but recieved no answer until I prayed with my legs.”

“Prayed with my legs.” I like that.

Sure, sometimes we would find Jesus on His knees in the Garden, yet in John 21 in the early morning hours you see Him on a deserted beach cooking breakfast for his fishing buddies.

Proverbs 31 describes the worthy woman as a “go-getter” who gets up early not to pray and to journal, but verse 15 says “to provide for her family.”

In the book Those Winter Sundays by the African American poet Robert Hayden, he recalls his hard-working father who would rise in the predawn hours to stoke the fire for the sleeping family. “My father got up early and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, then with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made fires blaze. No one ever thanked him. When the rooms were warm he would call and slowly I would rise and dress... speaking indifferently to him who had driven out the cold and polished my good shoes as well.”

As a grown man Hayden looks back and reflects, “What did I know of love’s austere and lonely offices?”

I like being part of a church where love builds fires and polishes shoes in the blueblack cold of the morning. I like churches that pray with their legs.

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