Women are nurturers, supporters to family and friends, and often overcommitted in time and energy given over to others. I speak from experience. Women are in relationship with others in a deeply personal way. Their celebrations become ours. Their struggles weigh upon us as well. We are women of faith who walk with individuals from birth as a child of God through journeys of going home to God’s embrace. Being caregivers by nature we may feel guilty about taking time out for ourselves. Suddenly we realize that our spiritual life of prayer and quiet time have become a low priority.
Sound familiar? I have certainly walked this road in congregational ministry. There are meetings early in the morning and conversations with individuals in the evening and attending committee meetings. Even when delegating to volunteers, there is training and support that can take even more time than if I had done the tasks myself, or so I think. I find my gifts for programming and retreats blossoming with creative energy as I prepare, yet can become consuming if I do not guard my time. When being involved in the community, especially with mental health organizations and groups over the past six years, many times I have said yes to an invitation to write or speak, resulting in my prayer, meditation, and spiritual disciplines being neglected. My family has received the leftover energy and attention. Finding the grounded center required intentionality in taking care of myself and being still for a renewed joy in family and ministry.
When I hear the “Great Whisper” of God’s presence I am brought back to the anchor for my day and night. In Fragments of Your Ancient Name, Joyce Rupp has collected 365 names for the divine to walk you through the year, some she has written and others by various writers and voices in meditation. The entry for December 6 reads
“Great Whisper That Calms, by Mark Nepo.
Whisper in my distracted ear
When all I can hear is the whine
Of my crammed calendar.
Whisper in my worried heart
When a loved one’s pain falls
Into every crevice of my life.
Whisper in my addled mind
When I lose my way to love
By constant, heartless criticism.
Whisper loud enough for me to hear.
Today: I listen closely to the Great Whisper.”
Fragments of Your Ancient Name: 365 Glimpses of the Divine for Daily Meditation,
Joyce Rupp, 2011, Sorin Books
How do you find the quiet center once again? A favorite poet and author of mine is Wendell Berry. You can read about his life and works at the Poetry Foundation. Among several poems I return to many times is this poem of only four lines.
“Best of any song
is bird song,
in the quiet, but first
you must have the quiet.”
A Timbered Choir, Wendell Berry, 1998, Counterpoint publishing
What will bring you peace? Often it is only by getting away to a different physical place where you can move into a slower rhythm, be kind to yourself and truly breathe deeply. Then you can release what is weighing upon your spirit in solitude to discover once again delight in daily life. Prayer, meditation and spiritual nurturing can free you to be in the embracing presence of God. Creating a discipline of self-care gives you a strong anchor ready to steady you when daily responsibilities with family and caring for others become overwhelming. I hope you will take time out today to discover a place you can call your own. My quiet place is the retreat center library with snuggling into the comfy recliner and watching the trees change throughout the seasons. Books by my favorite devotional authors are close at hand. Where is your quiet center?
“Come and find the quiet center
in the crowded life we lead,
find the room for hope to enter,
find the frame where we are freed;”
stanza 1, hymn text by Shirley Erna Murray, born in Invercargill, New Zealand
May you breathe quietly and deeply today…Cheri