Here we are, a week before Thanksgiving, and the pace is picking up. The holiday school concerts are on the calendar, there is a Dickens production at the Hangar Theatre my daughter and I might go to, we have concerts and parties planned. I’m thinking about what new recipes I’d like to try for dinners and desserts and have already begun decorating for the season. Advent begins two Sundays from now and I still need to make a wreath or centerpiece and find a new book to read to guide me through the four weeks. But I am continuing to be firm about scheduling white space.
What do I mean by that? Time to think, reflect, pray, write, read and simply be. Time for my inner life–my soul–time to breathe. As modern people, we feel the business crowding out our days and nights. We think we can fit just one more activity or responsibility into our lives and everything will be alright. But just as we need to make time to sleep, prepare and eat healthy food and exercise, we need time for soul care. Time to quiet ourselves, listen for the stirrings in our hearts, examine our lives to see if we are living the life we mean to live and make adjustments if necessary.
“Quietness is the beginning of virtue. To be silent is to be beautiful. Stars do not make a noise.”
It’s hard to go deep if we are always going. It may seem like a waste of time in our results-driven culture, but it isn’t. Your entire life will benefit from regular reflection and stillness, from rest and quiet.
“I don’t think we spend enough time in reflection and introspection. We don’t know who we are as individuals in this culture anymore.”
You might have to put earbuds in if you live in a noisy place or take a walk into the woods or down the road. Trade with your partner for quiet time if you have small children. Put the kids to bed early like my mom used to do. (There were four of us and we had to be in bed by 7 each night so she had time to herself.)
If you are an extrovert, the idea of regular times like this could seem frightening or at least boring. But I want to leave you with a quote from Henri Nouwen in which he said that deepening your inner life will enrich your relationships with others:
“Solitude is very different from a ‘time-out’ from our busy lives. Solitude is the very ground from which community grows. Whenever we pray alone, study, read, write, or simply spend quiet time away from the places where we interact with each other directly, we are potentially opened for a deeper intimacy with each other.”