Every morning the alarm goes off and I jump out of bed. OK, well actually the alarm only goes off some mornings ... and usually I jump out of bed so I can cross the room to hit the snooze button ... but eventually my days starts like it does for many people around me. I rush into the day trying to put together my mental checklist. I make breakfast, pack lunches, get boys up and going, and start the tasks of the day. I navigate my checklist, trying to weave through the chaos of living in an unkempt house, filled with loud, noisy children, and secured by a pile of bills yet to be paid ... all of these things demanding my time, my attention, my money, my sanity. The breakneck pace of the simple world I have chosen to live in makes me wonder how I would cope with a world that is more complex--be it working outside my home, rushing kids around to multiple schools and activities, or even just trying to please a husband. I have searched for years for a way to calm the clamor and conquer the chaos, trying lists and accountability partners and rewards only to discover again and again the only thing that can bring me peace.
I'm not a morning person, so the momentum of propelling myself into immediate activity first thing in the morning often seems like the intuitive way to keep myself awake, not to mention to actually accomplish something before noon. Yet the only way that I reach the end of the day feeling satisfied with what I have (or haven't) done is when I spend time at the beginning and throughout the day looking, listening, waiting, being still, and remembering to let myself be led by the One who made me for a purpose and who knows how today can bring me closer to fulfilling that purpose.
Being still ... waiting ... listening .... All are very hard activities to learn to do well in our culture. With all our modern conveniences to do survival work for us, we continue to overload ourselves with more tasks and call them necessary. We drown out the cries of our own souls with images and noise and imitation relationships until silence and stillness seem wasteful, dull, and tedious. We exhaust ourselves to the point that if we aren't doing something we can't keep our eyes opened or our minds engaged. And by we ... I mean me.
One of the things I love about new beginnings ... about the new opportunities afforded in recurring routines ... is that I am reminded again and again to return to what is essential. Not what I think is necessary, but what my very soul needs. Once again, I'm reminded of how badly I need quiet time in the morning to read from ancient pages about the One who has brought me this far. Once again I draw close to His heart to pour out to Him my concerns, to ask Him for help, to share with Him the my delights. As I try to do this in chaos I remember, again, that I need a place to retreat to His arms, so one more time I clean out a bag ... a corner ... a closet to set aside as my personal Holy of Holies where I can worship Him.
My house is still in chaos. My schedule packed with more things to do than there are hours in the day. Even my room is a disaster, but this morning, I retreat to the lovely prayer closet I have restored and sanctified for the purpose of worshiping the Lover of My Soul. It is a place of beauty ... of simplicity ... a place of escape into what is eternal from that which will continue to change until it ceases. This is my response to needing the SHELTER of prayer. This is my retreat.