Parish Interview: What Practical Steps Can We Take to Carve Out Time for Daily Contemplation?

March 20, 2012 § 4 Comments

St. Luke in the Fields Blog: What practical steps can we take to carve out time for daily contemplation?

Julia Stroud: Lately I have been wondering how the rest of the world does it. “How do you do it?!” I think when I see a friend turn her paper in on time, or when I see a co-worker working diligently on a project with no deadline, or when I see someone effortlessly descend the subway stairs with a stroller in one hand and a Blackberry in the other. How do they do it?! And by “it,” I mean, finish anything?  Get to the gym? Read a book? And sleep at night? And wake up in the morning?

I feel like I need at least 5 extra hours each day to fit in everything I want to do and everything I have to do. And I don’t even have any children! This makes Lent particularly daunting for me, because it is a time when I feel drawn to do even more. Wouldn’t it be great to go to bible study every week during Lent? Or read the Daily Office every morning? Those are things that, I imagine, would make my Lent a “success,” even better than giving up cookies. But they are just not realistic.

Once, several years ago, I was feeling particularly stressed out. I felt like I had no time to think, let alone pray. All of the ambitious systems I had laid out–like waking up half an hour early for centering prayer, or downloading the lectionary on my iPod–were not working. I happened to be in the shower contemplating my failure when I realized it: the shower was the perfect place to go through my daily prayers! “God, you are awesome,” I think as I put the shampoo on my head. “Thank you for this beautiful weather,” as I wash it out. What better place to make a confession than the shower? Or to ask for help? Or to pray for those other people in your life who need it? (People who haven’t thought of this brilliant shower method, for example.)

Shower-prayer is one quirky little method of daily contemplation, meditation, and spiritual connection that has worked for me, without adding any extra hours to my day. It hasn’t really helped with turning my papers in on time, but at least I feel a bit calmer about my tardiness.

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§ 4 Responses to Parish Interview: What Practical Steps Can We Take to Carve Out Time for Daily Contemplation?

  • Deborah Emin says:

    Julia, thanks for this wonderful meditation on the shower prayers. I too have used the shower that way. In fact, it is one of the best places all year round to become aware of what God intends for the day. (Even if I take a shower before going to bed.)

    Right now the ground is too wet here for me to do this, but most times of the year, we have a labyrinth at the local cemetery and I walk that and pray for the day and for others and for all the things that could be remembered if I have the time to do that. Remember that is.

    But no matter the weather or the time of year, the shower prayer is one of the best. In addition, I can create my own hymns to go along with the prayers. You are correct, Julia, showers are the best place to pray.

  • My favorite seminary professor once told our class that he often thanked God for his baptism while in the shower. Now I won’t just thank God for my baptism, and for great teachers while I am in the shower, I will also thank God for Julia and her brothers. (Julia Stroud’s mom) Nancy+

  • Julia Alberino says:

    Julia, Thanks for this most excellent interview question and meditation. Showers are indeed good places to pray. Perhaps because i grew up in a large, noisy, somewhat chaotic Italian family, I can go contemplative in the midst of noise. Lately, one of my favorite places to pray is on the bus or subway (silently, of course; my purpose is to create a contemplative silent space for myself and God, not to be mistaken for someone on a cell phone with an invisible earpiece). It takes a certain amount of trust to suspend that New York hyper-vigilance for part of one’s commute, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who uses commuting time this way.

  • sean says:

    Thanks so much for this. I listen to a Podcast of MP everyday while I iron. Ironing every morning makes me feel like I’ve accomplished at least one thing that day.

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