From the Rector
In case you didn’t notice, it’s May. So. Very. May.
It is probably the prettiest month of the year – all the plants are thriving, the flowers blooming, and the temperature is in that perfect sweet spot before the blast furnace door opens – but who has time to notice? I just looked at my calendar for the rest of the month, and I will either be at church, at an end-of-year school program for one of my girls, or at some sort of party/event/thing every waking minute of every day this month. If I’m not at “the thing,” I’m at a meeting to prepare for “the thing,” or driving to “the thing,” or shopping for “the thing.” May…it is the best of months and the worst of months.
I have a hunch more than a few of you feel this way right now, too.
At times like this, if we are to do more than simply survive the mayhem and actually get to the other side of May without feeling like we just drove through the car wash mounted to the roof, it may help to remember something the great 16th century church reformer Martin Luther once wrote: “I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.”
Luther understood that the busier we get, the more we actually need to slow down, too. We can quickly become captives to our checklists, and our captivity diminishes us as human beings. We are technically “doing” a lot, but we are barely attentive to any of it, and before we finish one experience, we’ve already moved on to the next. We’re not ever really present, so we enjoy little, remember less, and feel relief rather than gratitude when it’s all over.
The need to slow down and pray is not only about the level of our enjoyment or productivity, but also the health of our souls. Just think about how weary you get when you finish long periods of stress. It’s not just our bodies that get run down, but our souls, too – and they can take much longer to rejuvenate than our bodies! Soul-weariness, if we let it sink in too deeply, can be hard to recover from and can quickly poison our most important relationships, which sets in motion a terrible downward spiral. It is much better to invest in its prevention than try to compensate and heal from it when it has set in.
Busyness is worn like a badge of honor in our culture, so Luther’s advice can seem not only impossible on a practical level, but also somehow undesirable. We are conditioned to believe being a good parent, or good employee, or good person looks like perpetual motion and stress. Which is why, in a funny way, we extract a sort of self-destructive pleasure from months like May. We may feel mildly psychotic, but at least we look like the ideal we have been taught by society to embrace. So, I know that the idea of sitting quietly in prayer every day for even 20 minutes may seem like the craziest thing you’ve ever heard me say. I realize, too, that for many of us quiet time is often just a struggle against the hamsters in our brains.
But here is the thing: our desire to be still and present with God is a grace in and of itself, and it has more value to the health of our bodies and souls than we can even imagine. So, even if you do it imperfectly, even if your mind is spinning, even if your list seems impossibly packed, embrace Martin Luther’s wisdom. Slow down more when everything around you speeds up. Make time for God when time seems shortest. Breathe, and speak to God about your hopes and worries and needs and thanksgivings. Sit still, or go for a walk, or actually look at some of those flowers in glorious bloom. And May will become just another month when God leads you through this magnificent gift of abundant life.
See you this weekend.