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.