Do you Need a Break from Holiday Noises and Busyness?

We have just passed Thanksgiving Day and before some of us had time to take a deep breath the First Sunday of Advent was upon us.

Then there are all the emails and media noise about “Black Friday,” “Cyber Monday,” “Giving Tuesday” and the great things on sale this year that are “too good” to miss out on.

Does your schedule of daily activities get more and more crowded with appointments, meetings, parties and family, work or church events that you feel guilty if you do not show up for?

Do you need a break? Maybe a few minutes of silence and solitude? Or maybe a few hours?

I picked up John Ortberg’s book The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People the other day and in a chapter entitled “An Unhurried Life: The Practice of “‘Slowing’” I found him addressing the need to eliminate “hurry” from our lives and the need for solitude.

While there is much in that chapter worth our undivided attention, I want to share with you a format Ortberg includes for an extended period of solitude.

I suspect it would be very helpful for many of us to think about including such a day during this busy season where so many sounds, activities and persons ask for our attention. I bet the first thought of many, as I suggest such is, “That’s the last thing I have time for now!” And, maybe that is the first clue that such solitude at this moment is essential.

However it may strike you, take some time to look over this schedule and think about how you might incorporate a part or all of it into this season.

Ortberg presents the following format for an “extended period of solitude

Extended Solitude

  1. Find a place where you can be uninterrupted and alone, such as a park or a retreat center.
  2. Spend a brief time the night before to get ready, to ask God to bless the day, and to tell him you want to devote the day to him. This day is your gift to God, but even more, it is a gift God wants to give you. What do you need from the Lord: a sense of healing and forgiveness? Conviction for an apathetic heart? Compassion? A renewed sense of mission? Ask him for this.
  3. Arrange the day around listening to God. The following format is adapted from Glandion Carney’s book The Spiritual Formation Toolkit.

8:00 – 9:00 – Prepare your mind and heart, take a walk, or do whatever will help you set aside concerns over tasks and responsibilities. Try to arrange your morning so you can remain in silence from the time you awaken.

9:00 – 11:00 – Read and meditate on Scripture, taking time to stop to reflect when God seems to be speaking to you through the text.

11:00 – 12:00 – Write down responses to what you have read. Speak to God about them.

12:00 – 1:00 – Eat lunch and take a walk, reflecting on the morning.

1:00 – 2:00 – Take a nap.

2:00 – 3:00 – Set goals that emerge from the day’s reflection.

3:00 – 4:00 – Write down these goals and other thoughts in a journal. You may want to do this in the form of a letter to God. Prepare to reenter society. (pp 83-85)

What do you think about the scheduled nap? Does it strike you as a waste of time or a genuine spiritual insight regarding a certain balance needed in our interior and exterior life?

Give yourself some time to think about a period of solitude. You might find you want to do more than think about it. You might want to schedule it.

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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