“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” George Eliot
In our contemporary times, we are so busy that some of us hardly take time to sleep. With the advances of technology, life is fast and very full. Primitive times offered a much slower, calmer pace with more natural opportunities for silence and solitude, in addition to hard physical labor, which is good for the body as well as the soul. Now with electricity we are less in touch with the natural rhythms and cycles of our days, months and years. We can stay up as late as we want with the aid and company of light bulbs, television, DVDs, iPhones, Xbox, Facebook and Twitter. If societies that came before us could see us, they might think we were a bunch of overactive crazies.
Cloaked by over-activity, a typical day in the life of many of us is marked with avoidance and escape. Busyness sometimes serves to help us evade the vulnerable places in our hearts that are wounded and afraid. Perhaps we numb the pain within by filling our lives with commotion and workaholism, we create a full social life to avoid the interior life, or we try to dull the ache by eating, drinking or exercising too much. Others do the opposite—in an attempt to avoid pain they suppress or control it by not eating and by other repressive behaviors. Indulgences of most kinds are often signs that we are avoiding or trying to escape our pain.
Sometimes we resist retiring for the day because it is on our bed at night that everything stops and we can no longer escape the voices in our head or the ache in our heart. The stillness and silence of bedtime is sometimes haunting rather than peace-filled. When we’ve used so much energy to try to avoid our personal turmoil, and we finally manage to reach dreamland, why would we want to wake up? Another day sometimes threatens us with more avoidance and sedation. And so the cycle continues: we live our days finding ways to sedate our woundedness and, if we’re lucky, we find an escape at night through sleep. Inevitably, though, it will be time to wake once again from our slumber and to attempt to live the chaos of another day. Day after day the morning comes and the gift of the hours is ours to receive. So we rise. After all, we do have a life to live. And if we remain in a state of perpetual sleep we might as well be dead.
- Take the pulse of your life. Are you living at a peaceful pace and rhythm or does life feel crowded, over-scheduled, anxious-ridden and exhausting?
- If your life seems overly busy, it’s difficult to relax and it’s a drag to wake up, is there anything you’re unconsciously trying to avoid? Take a moment to sit with the question and notice any feelings, sensations, thoughts or memories that surface. You may want to jot them down to return at a later time for further exploration. Don’t worry about what arises. Just take notice, embrace it and ask God for the grace to deal with it in God’s time.
- If you’re experiencing a balanced, peaceful life rhythm, take a moment to savor this grace. Notice how good it is. Notice the freedom and joy that arise from being grounded and centered. Give thanks.
photo credit: Jennifer Speight