Walking Our Faith: A source of deep joy | SummitDaily.com

Walking Our Faith: A source of deep joy

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson

What I miss most during this COVID-19 summer is hosting one or two National Repertory Orchestra musicians, as I have for the past two summers. Hosting doesn’t mean having them stay in my home; it simply entails inviting them for dinner or a hike or a conversation over coffee.

I joined other host families because I love classical music. But after two summers, I discovered that I love hosting because I so enjoy meeting these graduate school students who are about to launch their professional music careers. They are filled with passion and joy for something they have dedicated years of their lives to study. And when I attend their live concerts, it makes the experience so much more enjoyable.

A few weeks ago, my neighbor Susan and I were talking over dinner on the deck. I mentioned that I go into the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Saint John the Baptist Episcopal Church, where I am the parish administrator.

Susan quite naturally asked what I did on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays, when I wasn’t at the office.

I quickly answered that I spend those days writing and doing things around the house, but honestly I felt quite sheepish. Those days often slip by with little being accomplished. Yes, I write this column each week and my food column every other week. But I haven’t been working on my new book, as I’d promised I would this year.

After that conversation, I spent the weekend thinking about how I might spend Monday, Wednesday and Friday in a more productive manner, to have a five-day workweek instead of two.

Because I am a dedicated fan of journaling, I wrote out the areas in which I wanted to improve, with specific tasks and a schedule: spiritual practices, writing, finishing a mystery novel that has been in progress for the past 10 years and exercise.

I’ve put my new schedule into practice, and what has surprised me most is that, along with filling my days with activity, I’m happier. I’m reminded of the musicians I’m missing this summer. When I put dedicated time and effort into these areas of my life, I rediscover why they bring me joy.

The mystery is finally underway again, and I’m excited about the story and my characters. Best of all, I believe it will be finished by the end of this year.

For my exercise plan, I’ve joined an online dance class (so no one can actually see how I might resemble the dancing hippos of “Fantasia”) and I’ve discovered it is fun to dance when no one is watching.

But most gratifying is the impact on my spiritual life. The list of items I wanted to accomplish included: more spiritual reading, praying the psalms through the Divine Office, praying the rosary, reading my Bible and, most of all, more time in conversation with God.

Spending more time with God and learning more about my faith has been a source of deep joy.

The more attention we devote to anything, the greater the impact on our lives — for better or worse, be it mastery of a subject or descent into an addiction — and the more it is reflected in who we are and who we become. Which naturally leads to the question: Is this who we want to be?

In the weeks since I thought about and then put into practice how I want to spend my time, I realize not only how precious my relationship with God is to me but also how much more I want of that relationship.

It has been widely reported that people have lost interest in religion and are indifferent to God. There are a lot of reasons for this.

I believe it’s because we have so watered down and secularized God in an attempt to make religion modern and relevant. We have completely distorted the beauty of faith, which is complex and requires time and attention. It is the difference between a 3-minute pop song and a classical symphony.

We have denied ourselves the experience of what a personal relationship with God can and should mean.

I hope you will spend some time this weekend making your own assessment of how you spend your days and how you spend your life. What do you want to accomplish in life? What brings you joy?

I hope you will write a plan that guides you and reflects your priorities. Most of all, I hope your plan will include deepening your relationship with God.  

I believe that committing to more time with God in prayer and reading the Bible are a good start. Especially spending time in conversation with God.

We are each responsible for how we spend our days because that is how we will spend our lives. I hope you discover the deep joy that comes in spending time with God daily and seeking to know God personally.

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking Our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com.

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