Recently, Everyday Abbey had a conversation with Karen Reed around the question of time (https://everydayabbey.org/time/). Wherever I talk with people about the call for Christians to form a way of life around practices, such as the daily office, their response is almost universally the same – “I’d love to, I know it’s important but I don’t have time.” Recently I looked back to the first page of my current Journal – January 2017 – and there it was right in front of me in my own hand: “I don’t have the time to spend doing practices”.
None of us are immune to this dis-ease. We seem to have so little time in our rushed, social-media, 24/7 lives. That recognition of how I, too, was as caught in this as anyone else has caused me to step back and take time to be still each day in an Ignatian-like Examen. I am making the time to stop, listen and seek God’s presence. Here are some things I’m rediscovering as I do that:
- As I am quiet at the end of the day, people are brought to my mind I wouldn’t remember in all my (important) busyness. In this remembering, my attitudes are being changed.
- There are moments of regret (not guilt) when I recognize how my time has been taken up being driven by some need to fill up my days with activity.
- I am attending to language again, to the use of words, to how powerful they are to bless.
- I see things again that I’ve taken for granted: events, places and people in my everyday life whose actions and stories I easily dismiss as unimportant – this attending to people and places invites me into places of gratefulness I had lost in my driven-ness.
- I’m surprised at what takes place in these times of stillness and waiting. The other night I looked down and saw my journal with a pen lying on it. Seeing these items – a journal purchased in London and a pen bought in Chicago – I realized how incredibly privileged my life has been. In that awareness came other recognition – this privilege has been a gift of God not for myself but for others.
I confess that these simple recognitions only happened as I allowed myself to set aside some time to be in a space of listening and receiving.