“Stop this train. I want to get off and go home again. I can’t take the speed it’s moving in. I know I can’t; but honestly won’t someone stop this train.” -John Mayer
We often miss the gift of life because we live at a speed that is just too fast. Our American way of life is just too fast. Few of us are exempt from the busy, fast-paced life—priests included. The demands of job and family life can be overwhelming for the laity; the demands of ministry can be overwhelming for priests and religious. But so many of us believe the lie that if we’re not busy, then we’re not effective; and as we get caught in the maelstrom of our busyness, we experience emotional and spiritual pain.
I’ve reflected on this reality of the busy, fast-paced life for a while and I’ve come to see that it’s not so much about being too busy that causes our pain; it’s really about not being rooted. A tree without deep roots will easily be blown over in strong winds. If in our daily lives we are not deeply rooted in the Lord then the demands and fast pace of our lives will blow us over; we’ll break—and sometimes we’ll break down.
The truth is that it’s possible to meet the demands of our lives with a spirit of peace and calm. It’s possible to be anchored in the storm.
I like the image of the eye of a hurricane. A hurricane is a powerful force of nature: damaging winds, torrential rains, destructive waves. Yet, there is complete tranquility in the middle of this destructive storm. That’s where you and I are meant to live: out of the center, out of our hearts where the Lord dwells. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that the heart is the place of encounter. You and I need to learn to go into our hearts, not in order to be self-absorbed, but to encounter the Lord who dwells there.
True, we want our lives to be less busy, but what we’re really longing for is peace and calm in our hearts and minds in our daily lives. If we can live out of that peace and calm then we can meet the demands of our lives peacefully—and joyfully. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, generosity, faithfulness, and self-control. We long for the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
So how can we be more deeply rooted in the Lord and allow his peace and calm to reign in us? We must make quiet prayer a daily priority. In future posts I’ll write about how the daily examen—made popular by St. Ignatius of Loyola—can help to keep us rooted in the Lord in the midst of our daily lives. Suffice it to say, just give ten minutes of quiet to the Lord each day this week and see what he gives to you.
Slow down. Sit in silence. Do nothing. Take some deep breaths. Let go and let God. Let him love you.