Some weeks ago I blogged about an experience I had in Eucharistic Adoration where I was having a challenge with “noise” and finding peace during my prayer time in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The experience rattled me as my overactive brain would not allow me to be calm, listen and focus during what is typically my weekly retreat from the hectic world and my frantic schedule. I knew I needed to make some changes, but was not quite sure where to begin.
The weeks following this experience were a combination of maintaining my typical fast pace, snatches of inconsistent prayer time and infrequent reflection on how I had gotten so far off course. Then I got sick. What I thought was a bad cold developed into walking pneumonia. I had to cancel my meeting schedule for a whole week and a few speaking events I had committed to as I was forced to work from home and regain my health. Fortunately, I caught it early and the antibiotic I was given helped me recover rather quickly. In retrospect, I recognize now the hand of God in this forced “retreat” and how this was a warning to slow down a bit.
My crazy schedule had been forcibly addressed and a few valuable lessons learned about not ignoring my health, but I was still struggling with the noise issue as we were approaching Ash Wednesday. I had still not decided what I would give up for Lent as I joined my family for Mass that evening and had the usual dilemma between giving up sugar or coffee until I heard a riveting homily from our Parochial Vicar, Father Henry. Father talked about removing the obstacles between us and Christ during Lent. He challenged us to examine what was getting in the way of a stronger relationship with Him and to give those things up during Lent. The light bulb went off and the realization set in that I desperately needed more quiet time. I would never have peace and a return to the rich prayer life I once enjoyed unless I eliminated my distractions. So, I have given up radio, TV and unnecessary computer time for Lent.
Before you decide that I’m nuts and this is not doable, indulge me for a little longer. I am in my car over 90 minutes each day. By turning off the radio and enjoying the silence or listening to Gregorian chant (which I strongly recommend!) I have turned formerly unproductive time into wonderful reflection and prayer time. I have never been a big TV person, but eliminating all TV has helped me reconnect to my spiritual reading in the evening. I have eliminated unnecessary computer time outside of my work and Integrated Catholic Life responsibilities and have added even more quality time back into my life. I must be dense to have not done all of this sooner! The peace and stronger relationship with Christ I crave is getting nearer every day and I am determined to get there with the help of the Holy Spirit.
What have I learned from these experiences? All of my hard work is meaningless if it is not given up for His greater glory instead of my personal satisfaction. I have learned that I am not Superman and I need to be careful about over scheduling my life. I know there will always be noise and distractions, but I must be ready to unplug as often as I can and fill that regained time with prayer and silence. I have learned that I can’t do any of this alone. I need to give up my struggles and unburden myself to our Lord in prayer. My pride often gets in the way, but during the last few weeks I have been taught valuable lessons in humility. I have been reminded of how comforting it is to seek the intercession and help of our Blessed Mother. Finally, I know I was made for Heaven and not this place. I may always be stumbling towards peace and my final destination, but at least today I am on the right path and moving forward…and that is a good place to start.