Furrows, be glad. Though earth is bare,
One more seed is planted there:
Give up your strength the seed to nourish,
That in course the flower may flourish.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the rose, is on the way.
Lyrics from People Look East, a hymn by Eleanor Farjeon (1881-1965), 1928
Maranatha is an Aramaic phrase that appears once in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 16:22). Often, it is translated to “Come, Lord Jesus.” In my family, we often say it during Advent, perhaps after lighting a candle on our Advent wreath and saying a prayer. When I take the time to pray the Daily Examen, I often begin by repeating Maranatha, come Lord Jesus while taking deep breaths. This is my personal cue: it’s time for prayer.
As I was thinking about this word this year, though, the word marathon keeps popping into my mind instead. Remember back in March, when many of us were sent home and asked to work from home? And my children were sent home from daycare, too? Those early weeks of this pandemic were a sprint. Each morning, my husband and I looked at our calendars. I have important zoom meetings from 9-10:30; can you take the kids on a walk? // Sure, yes, I guess. But I will need to email my 10am appointment and ask if she can talk later. // Remember the playground is locked up, so you shouldn’t’ walk past it. // Wait, does the baby have a fever? No. No, she’s fine. I’m crazy. //
Did your March feel like that, too? And your April? And May, and June, and July? And maybe your August and September and October and November and goodness I can’t sprint this long. No one can.
It’s a marathon, friends. This year has been a marathon for me, and I have to stop pretending I can sprint.
I looked up the word marathon, and it basically means “a place full of fennels” in Greek. So there’s no magic answer to the stress we all feel in that etymology. Instead, I make myself pivot back to Maranatha, come Lord Jesus.
Slowing my breath down, as I do on my early morning runs, so that I don’t lose it completely.
Repeating this plea to God so that I feel God’s presence in this moment.
Forcing myself to stay present and to sit still long enough to remember that the God who made me is with me still.
I invite you to sit still for a few minutes. Try taking three to five deep breaths. And between each breath, gently say to yourself, “Maranatha, come Lord Jesus.”
Britt Luby, Associate Chaplain TCU Office of Religious and Spiritual Life