Inner Peace

The following is a Lenten reflection by Amy McMasters:

I do not have time to seek inner peace!

With all apologies to Simon and Garfunkel, hearing “Slow down, you move too fast,” makes my brain spin even faster while shaking a clenched fist and growling through clenched teeth, “I really don’t WANT to make this tedious morning last!”

Yet we hear a lot of this “slow down” business during the Lenten season.  This is a time of reflection.  This is a time we’re supposed to be preparing our hearts and minds for Easter.  Yet many of us simply don’t have five minutes to ourselves in the sheer madness of our days.

Most mornings, I wake up ten minutes too late.  I take an abbreviated shower, throw cat food in a bowl for three cranky felines.  I jam keys, wallet and cell phone into a pocket as I grab my bag and dash past a bleary-eyed spouse on my way out the door.  I arrive at work a minute before my start time to a full email box and often several messages on my voicemail.

What on EARTH is this inner peace people talk about finding?

Brian  McLaren will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Disciples of Christ General Assembly meeting in July. We’re doing a series of small group discussions Brian McLaren’s series of books, Finding Our Way Again.  I met with the small group I lead this past Saturday.  As we talked, one of the members confessed she felt relaxed and peaceful but only because she’d forced herself to take the hour for the group for herself.  I could see the guilt on her face.

We are a society of people who are always on the go.  Many of us seem to feel taking any time for ourselves is a luxury and maybe even just a bit arrogant.  We have these crazy, full days where there isn’t an inch of room for reflection.

Or is there?

I was talking with a friend the other day who told me, “You know, I can have the best intentions in the world.  I can say I’m going to get up 30 minutes earlier and meditate but it will never happen.  Yet every night, I find time before I go to sleep to think of all the things I’m thankful for.”  She also says she finds time for reflection on a quiet car ride to the office or on a bike ride.

We have to make time for things such as exercise, commutes to work and showers.  Why are we not marking this time as our own?  Often these “forced” breaks in our days are the only time that isn’t crammed with fourteen other things.

I’m learning to use my ten minute shower and twenty minute commute as “me” time.  I reflect on my day and what I want to get accomplished.  I remind myself to be patient.  When I get home from work, I take five minutes to vigorously scratch both dogs behind their ears and scritch kitty whiskers.  Like my friend, I’m beginning to recount the things I’m thankful for as I’m winding down to go to sleep.  I’m able to realize God and peace are all around me at those times … and at all times.

As I’ve been doing this, I’ve also found that I’m stealing other little moments here in there to notice something more fully, to appreciate simple things that make my day easier.  I’m very reverent of that first cup of coffee in the morning.  Silly as it may seem, I can find divinity in a skinny vanilla latte.

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