Walking our Faith: How to overcome stresses that cause us to lose our peace (column)
Walking Our Faith
After I cut the cable on cable news and stopped listening to a live stream of the same political shows on my computer, I realized there was one last bastion of political noise I needed to deal with. In order to watch local news, I’ve listened to the same political ads so frequently, I can probably do a decent recitation of their entire script.
On Thursday evening I filled out my mail-in voter’s ballot and will mail it in. I hope you will too. But there are still three weeks until Election Day, which means three more weeks of political advertisements. How will we survive this?
At the risk of sounding like a TV infomercial I’ll let you in on my 10-minute rescue plan from political fatigue. Very simply, it’s called 10 minutes of sacred silence.
These 10 minutes can be done anywhere. Turn off the TV or at least mute the volume, close your eyes or not, it really doesn’t matter. Simply spend 10 minutes alone in silent communion with God. If the idea of measuring 10 minutes seems distracting, set the timer on your phone, that’s what I do.
I begin by finding three things in my life to thank God for, these three items of gratitude always lift my spirits immediately. After I thank God for the blessings that surround me, I try to quiet my mind enough to listen for the quiet voice of God that offers peace. Then I allow my mind to rest in God’s loving presence.
The best thing about this 10-minute exercise is it can be done anywhere, at any time. In bed, sitting in a comfortable chair or outdoors on a walk, especially on our beautiful mountain trails. Henri Nouwen wrote “Oh Lord I know now that it is in silence in a quiet moment in a forgotten corner that you will meet me, call me by name, and speak to me a word of peace. It is in my stillest hour that you become the risen Lord to me.” We can also have that experience if we can quiet ourselves to hear it.
Over the last two weeks when I felt most overwhelmed by the news, I’ve found myself appreciating the necessity of silence, how silence can be healing, nourishing, rejuvenating and a place of solace. In this silence I meet God.
I have spoken often of my love of attending the hour of Adoration, an hour of silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament on Thursday evenings at Saint Mary’s from 5–6 p.m. This time of year is especially beautiful, as the winter sun sets earlier and twilight descends and the light within the church is muted and makes the silence in which we sit feel more sacred.
I treasure this Holy Hour, and I invite you to join me. St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Breck, also offers a twenty-minute centering prayer on Tuesday at 12:15, and all are welcome. Formal settings like these are a great way to begin if you wish to be with others as you pray. I attend both but have discovered that expanding this to a daily practice of 10 minutes when I am at home, has made all the difference. Whether with others or alone, I want you to know you can find your own sacred moment with God wherever you are, no matter what time of day or night. God is always waiting for you.
In a few weeks these elections will come and go. Some of us will be happy with the outcome and some of us will not. There is never a perfect outcome because we are imperfect people. However, what I hope you discover is this sacred silence that fills us with peace now will continue to fill us with peace after.
These 10 minutes are not about us reaching out toward God but allowing God to reach us. It is not discovering God in the silence but discovering that when we allow ourselves to be quiet, we find God is always with us. His peace and comfort are always available. The silence is where our minds discover what our hearts already know, God’s love for us.
Henry Nouwen wrote “As I grow older, I discover more and more the greatest gift I have to offer is my own joy of living, my own inner peace, my own silence and solitude, my own sense of well-being. When I ask myself, who helps me the most I must answer the one who is willing to share his or her life with me.”
When we are willing to give ourselves the gift of silence, which heals our heart and mind, we discover that by taking care of ourselves we become people who have more to give to others. We release our tension and replenish our hearts and minds with God’s love and God‘s peace. And then we can give what we have received to our families and community. I hope you will try this 10-minute transformative practice by spending 10 minutes with God. Try it daily for just five days. Please let me know if it works for you.
Suzanne Anderson lives in Breckenridge and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her books are available at the Next Page Books and Nosh in Frisco.
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