Sunday Inspiration: Twenty Second Meditations

twenty second meditations

Twenty second meditations. Can we accomplish anything important in such a short time?

We’ve all heard what we should do to keep from catching and/or passing along the coronavirus:

  • Stay away from others, especially if they’re sick,
  • Avoid large gatherings
  • Wash our hands on a regular basis
  • Not only wash them but WASH them, thoroughly and for at least twenty seconds.

Twenty seconds seems like a long time, doesn’t it? A lot longer than we imagined before the virus. What can we do while we’re waiting for soap and water time to end? Well, we can worry. We can remember all the things we’ve failed to accomplish, all the places we didn’t get to go, and the events we’ve had to forgo. Without working hard, we can double our anxiety and stress.

But there are better ways.

Why waste all that time simply washing when we could also be doing something inspirational to help  get through these chaotic times? You say you never seem to have time for meditation or prayer? Well, now you have multiple twenty-second periods each day for just that. Twenty second meditations with lots of soap and water can wash away fear as well as dirt, germs and viruses.

Here are some suggestions. If you have more, let us know your ideas for additional twenty second meditations in a comment below.

Singing Amazing Grace takes about twenty-four seconds if I sing the first verse, and about thirty when recording artists sing it with accompaniment So speed it up a little or enjoy the extra cleanliness. It’s up to you. If you don’t know the words or tune, here’s the Judy Collins version.

Are you familiar with the doxology? Many of us who grew up in Protestant churches know this well. Here is a beautiful rendition if you’re not familiar with the tune.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

My own faith uses different words to the same tune (actually several different versions but the following is my favorite). This is my preferred hand washing song, because I think we need faith, hope, love, beauty, truth and good now more than ever:

From all that dwell below the skies
Let faith and hope with love arise
Let beauty, truth, and good be sung,
In every land by every tongue.

A favorite song of the Jewish tradition is Shalom Chaverim, which if sung slowly is almost exactly 20 seconds. Think of “farewell, good friends” as a reminder to protect each other and stay home for a little while. And if you’re washing hands with someone else, this makes a beautiful round. You might enjoy being at the sink for quite a while.

Farewell, good friends!
Farewell, good friends!
Shalom, shalom!
Till we meet again,
till we meet again,
shalom, shalom.

Shalom, chaverim!
Shalom, chaverot!
Shalom, shalom!
shalom, shalom.

שלום חברים
שלום חברות
שלום שלום
שלום שלום

Source: Glory to God: the Presbyterian Hymnal #540

Here’s a fun one. When I was a girl at summer camp I learned the Johnny Appleseed table grace. I always felt uplifted and happier afterwards–although I was too cool to admit it. The first verse is exactly 20 seconds:

Oh, the Lord is good to me,
And so I thank the Lord,
For giving me the things I need;
The sun and the rain and the apple seed.
The Lord is good to me,

And finally, if you are a Zen Buddhist, no song will be necessary. You will simply be mindful and present to the miracle of the moment, the pleasure of water caressing your skin.

We have plenty of time each day to worry about the future. But why not take time for twenty second meditations, whenever you wash your hands? 


  1. Denise Alnazar on March 15, 2020 at 5:18 am

    Thank you for this! I will be washing my hands with song! Church has been cancelled here for the next few months. I can sing my praises daily as I wash my hands. 💕

  2. Bev Magee on March 15, 2020 at 8:30 am

    Thank you for you inspirational post and suggestions at this time of high anxiety!

  3. Shelley Costa on March 15, 2020 at 9:26 am

    I loved these suggestions, Emilie. Thanks!

  4. Thea McCurry on March 15, 2020 at 10:34 am

    I am compelled to share this post. These suggestions are so much better than any of the other options suggested on the news lately.
    Thank you for this inspiration.

  5. Jane Dougherty on March 15, 2020 at 11:04 am

    Singing the Johnny Appleseed grace will keep a smile on my face as I wash. It will bring back fond memories of the years of being a camper at church camp as well as the year I was on the staff,

  6. Linda Topp on March 15, 2020 at 11:54 am

    Whoa. Great minds think alike. I was just planning to send a similar email to the congregation this week. Thanks for the research!

  7. Judy M Zell on March 15, 2020 at 6:20 pm

    Love it!

  8. Rita Tellier on March 15, 2020 at 7:31 pm

    You always give us something to think about. Thanks for the inspiration.

  9. Pat Kennedy on March 15, 2020 at 11:21 pm

    I love all the ideas on washing hands! Soap and water may be a kinder method for people with sensitive skin too… I don’t think this one was mentioned. If it was, sorry…
    When my kiddos were in PreSchool, they were told to wash their hands to the verses of Happy Birthday to you,Happy Birthday to you Happy Birthday Dear ( friend..everybody..their own name, whatever works) Most kids know that one by heart. A second chorus may be forthcoming from those enthusiastic ones!

  10. Lynn Ross on March 17, 2020 at 6:21 pm

    Thank you, Emilie! These are much better than “Old McDonald” or the “ABC Song”. Seriously, I love it. You and Pro-man stay well.

  11. Helping At A Difficult Time - Emilie Richards on September 3, 2020 at 1:42 pm

    […] your hands a million times a day. Or maybe half a million? I posted some twenty-second inspirational songs to sing while you do, combining meditation/prayer with cleanliness. I sing one every time now, […]

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