Before there was a pandemic, there was the idea out there to eliminate the dreaded commute. It felt that the time of dropping the kids at in traffic, and occasionally dealing with road rage was something un-useful in today’s high paced world. In 2019, an article from RMIT & The University of Melbourne argued that those with long commutes by car were less productive and took more sick days than someone with a short commute, or by one who commutes by bike or walking. When I started to write this article, things were starting to open up in NSW, but now we are a bit more cautious. Regardless, many of us are still working from home. And even if we can work in the office, there’s still the option to work from home. So still the dreaded commute still seems to be a distant memory for many.
Here’s another view about the commute. In Dr Adam Fraser’s book The Third Space, he talks about the spaces we attend, and the spaces between them; the third space. The spaces we might attend could be our homes, our schools and workplaces, a friend’s place, church, or a park. The third space between each of those spaces is our commute to them. What we do in the Third Space helps us be more at home in our other spaces. The commute, for example, helps us understand that we’re going somewhere for work, or meeting for a friend, and to be ready and prepared for what happens there. We can also do stuff in that time to help us change our mental gears. Many in our church have used the daily commute in a productive way, whether commuting by bike or using it as their bible study time, or even learning a new language.
But now with that commute gone it seems that we’re all finding different ways for us to build a third space. A space where we can be ready for the next space we will be in, whether at school or for work.
Finding new routines
Often our new commute can be found in the routines we do before and after school or work. The main two routines that people have found to be important has been exercise and finding a place to do mindfulness. Recently, I heard of some radio stations which during the lockdown had a short mindfulness program play a couple of times throughout the day.
Earlier on Thrive, The Moyes family put together some of the new routines they during the height of lockdown. In that article, they mentioned their walks and bike riding during their breaks during the day. They also mentioned that they have used this time to continue their walk with God by reading his word. They were reminded that God is in control, and that “God is our refuge and strength” (Psalm 46:1-2)
Christians practice a form of mindfulness every day. We just don’t call it mindfulness. We do this through our prayer, our personal bible reading, and with remembering parts of the bible such as memory verses. All these practices help rely on his power and work and not on our own plans and power. Many Christians at this time have turned to the Psalms, a series of songs and poems that have been used by Gods people to pray and praise God, in many different times and emotions.
Using the Psalms as a form of Prayer
Back in March, an email from a Christian newsletter came through about a free new book. Trevor Wax had compiled a personal Prayer Book, Psalms in 30 Days: A Prayer Guide through the Psalter. The idea was to intently pray to God three times a day (morning, midday and evening), using the Psalms as a guide. There are also other prayers from Christian authors throughout history, reformed prayers, and other songs from the Bible. As we’re going through the psalms throughout the year at church, it was a helpful way in keeping a prayer life in a difficult time.
Tim Adams, our family minister at Macquarie Anglican, and I have been using this prayer book during the first few months of the lockdown to encourage our bible reading and prayer. After a few false starts, we’ve gone through this prayer book, and we’ve found it immensely helpful in starting and ending our days well and making sure that my walk with God was overflowing to my colleagues and my friends and family.
A couple of Psalms stick out. Psalm 13 and 42 remind me that I can cry out to him even when he feels so distant. Psalm 67 and 100 asks God for the day when the promises he has made that the whole world will be full of praise to him will be fulfilled. And Psalm 80 reminds me of the how that will happen through a Son of Man – Jesus Christ.
Surrounding the Psalm readings, there are prayers of lament and praise from other parts of the bible which point to the work that God has done for his people, or to the work of Jesus Christ who saves us from our sins. There’s a canticle section (canticle means little song) which used the common 3 songs of praise in Luke, which also remind us of the fulfillment of God’s promises in Jesus.
I also liked the way in which I could also pray for those working in the front line during the pandemic through the personal requests section each day. They also help me to remind myself of the family of believers both locally and abroad in this time.
I wonder what you commute to during this time. We all have an alternative commute right now, but where does that lead us to? I reckon that your commute should lead you to God’s word, and the rest that can be found only in Jesus. That commute won’t be dreaded, but joyful instead.