Sometimes I see life in different categories: my home life; my work life, my spiritual life, my physical health, my fitness, my financial well-being, my social life. Juggling all of these at once, I often to fail to achieve success in them simultaneously. There don’t seem to be enough hours in the day. Even if I begin texting a friend in another time zone at 5:00 a.m., skip lunch because there is no time and wind up the day ordering shoes from Amazon at 11:00 p.m., it isn’t easy to get it all done.
So I savor this moment each year when I step away and spend some uninterrupted days with the nuns up in Atchison. Mostly I read and prepare for upcoming sermons but also I take time for prayers and visits with the sisters. Even on the drive up, as I make the final turn down a country road, I feel the stress easing up and the heart making more room for the spirit to breath.
Rabbi Heschel once described the Sabbath as “a place in time,” which is how I experience this spiritual retreat. Like our weekly Sunday ritual of rest and worship, the goal is not to check a box called God but to renew our souls and savor life anew.
While talking with one of the nuns about the need to find new prayer methods, she said to me, “Remember, the whole point is to move into the heart of God.” Then it hit me that there is no such thing as stepping away and into the spiritual life. Our whole life is spiritual. The trick is to remember that no matter what we are doing: driving carpool, completing tax forms, attending meetings, ordering on Amazon, the whole point is to move into the heart of God. The point of retreat is to enter life more fully! The sister said the goal is not success but faithfulness.
Later that same evening, I was flipping through a prayer book that sister loaned me about practicing silent prayer. The book asked “Are you letting God act more freely within you?” Rather than seeing life as categories that need my attention, I realize that God seeks to invade the whole of our lives. Worship is not for God, it is for us, to enable us to let God act more freely within us.
With grace and peace,