Monday, May 29, 2017

Living at the Core 3: Quiet Reflection

I crave quiet reflection amidst the busyness of every day life as a wife, mom, and professional. Back in April of 2014 I wrote in my one little word album, "I am realizing again and again that sense of feeling like I am drowning from time to time. Though I am getting better with the mental side of busy, today I have been feeling like the word to describe it is coping. Yet, I want to go beyond coping."

Though counter-intuitive to add in additional layers, I have been learning that even when you feel so overwhelmed that you just couldn't possibly add anything into your daily schedule, it is actually more about what is missing from your schedule and then learning what you need to say no to in order to make space for what matters most.

In 2015 I realized that part of shifting the rhythms and routines of my life had to do with leaving some "breathing space" in my schedule. In that context, it was more about mapping out less than what I thought I could accomplish in a block of time so that when the typical unexpected aspects arose that then always left me feeling overwhelmed in a schedule that was already crammed too full, I already had extra space built in to accommodate.

At the same time, I had also been thinking about how to fit a more intentional and sustained prayer life into my daily schedule. Eventually I realized how the two went hand in hand and through the process I have been discovering what helps bring the sense of calm that St. Francis de Sales refers to in his well-known quote, "Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset."

Through selecting a one little word each year since 2010 (starting with simplicity), I have realized that each year I was being drawn in closer to God. As St. Augustine notes, our hearts long for God. Even though it took me years to figure out that what my heart was longing for was to deepen my faith life, the Holy Spirit was there whispering to help me identify areas of my life that I needed to transform.

By re-thinking what guides the scheduling in my life to seek a Christ-centered life, I have been recognizing what I need to change in order to remove obstacles to a sense of peace. I'm still busy; yet, instead of drowning, I am growing stronger through knowing what does and does not bring me peace and then committing to doing the hard work over time to allow the grace of God to transform me. Nourished by Sacred Scripture and the sacraments and by carving out intentional space in my schedule for silence, for being still, for pondering the glory of God, I feel a greater sense of calm. When the proactive decisions I have made to maintain that feeling are not quite enough and the overwhelmed feeling starts to creep in, instead of despairing, I recognize I need to pause and reset. It's a process, but I know I am making growth in the right direction.

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