by Pastor Alex
It might sound crazy, but silently doing nothing is a lot harder than it sounds. Parents probably know this better than anyone right now. While our options for venturing out into the world have been severely limited during our time staying at home, we are not experiencing a dearth of distractions. Being stuck at home only reminds us of the many projects that we’ve put off, telling ourselves that we will get to it ‘someday’. In our physical separation technology is an incredible tool, but we can easily spend hours on phones, televisions, computers, and more. Additionally, one new distraction you may be facing is working from home. The lure to check and respond to email at all hours is hard to overcome, and you might feel increased pressure to work longer days and more hours.
These are just some of the distractions that make it difficult to do nothing. However, I think that this time of staying home is a perfect opportunity to practice doing nothing. In Christianity, monasticism provides us with examples of individuals who have chosen to withdraw from the world and its pursuits. The Desert Mothers and Fathers provide some of our earliest records of organized monastic life, and the communities’ emphasis on scripture, solitude, prayer, and charity significantly influenced the development of Christianity. Today, our ideas of monasticism may illicit images of nuns or monks……maybe the movie Sister Act? Whether we draw from current or ancient depictions of monasticism, one uniting theme is the desire to pull back from the world and its pursuits and distractions.
Examples of turning away from distractions, ambitions, and even responsibilities are abundant throughout scripture. The Jewish concept of Sabbath underscores the value of rest and solitude. Jesus, also, regularly took time away from the crowds to recharge and be alone. Mark 6:31-32 records one of these incidents, reading, “31 Jesus said to them, `Come away with me. Let us go alone to a quiet place and rest for a while.' Many people were coming and going. They could not even eat. 32 So they went away in a boat to a lonely place by themselves.” These moments of withdrawal, stillness, and silence allow us to ground ourselves in the present. It gives us a clearer understanding of what God may be saying to us, or even how God is working around us. When screens, work, or social media consume every free second of our lives, we never slow down enough to notice what is happening around us.
Interestingly enough, our current situation is much like the life of monastics. The family gatherings, meals with friends, birthday parties, are all cancelled, while this is certainly disappointing, it may also offer the opportunity to slow. This isn’t the first time you’ve read about this idea. A few weeks back Pastor Amy wrote about how God may be encouraging us to confront our restlessness. I want to echo what she said, and maybe push you a little further. I want you to deliberately DO NOTHING!!!! Solitude and silence are not just habits of monks or nuns, they are an easy and accessible spiritual practice that we are in perfect position to tryout.
So, my challenge for you this week is to spend time doing nothing. Sit in silence and don’t move. Don’t listen to a podcast. Don’t let the TV run in the background. Don’t think about what needs to be done afterward. Simply close your eyes, take some deep breaths and be attentive to what God is saying to you. Be attuned to God’s movements happening around you. I’m confident that in doing this, you’ll experience a Divine Moment.
Prayer: Oh Lord, You know my heart better than I know it myself. You know my struggles and You hold each hope and fear in Your caring hands. Help me find quietness and happiness in intimate communion with You. Help me cultivate a quiet heart, like a baby content in its mother’s arms. Teach me, LORD, to be still and to know that You are God.
This Week’s Challenge
- I absolutely mean it. DO NOTHING! The world won't end, and it's good for you.
- Find some of the passages of scripture where Jesus takes time away. Jesus regularly takes time away for rest and prayer, or after a particularly challenging piece of news.
- Write down or journal some of the things that you notice about yourself when you are silent. What worries come to mind, what is God saying to you.