1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a
There’s an interesting thing about hurricanes. Despite their fury, at the very heart of the storm is a peaceful place. In the eye, the skies are often cloudless and the winds light and breezy. The devastatingly strong winds that converge toward the center never quite reach it. That eye is the focus of the hurricane around which the entire swirling, destructive storm rotates, yet it is always calm.
I try to remember that when my schedule feels like a hurricane with demands pulling me every which way, threatening to consume me. In order to maintain my sanity and avoid sinking into the waves, I need to go into my heart and find the eye of the storm, the lifesaver that grounds me and centers my life in peace and calm. I need to pray, devoting unstructured time to sit in the presence of God, listening and receiving what God gives me at that moment. Whenever I do, I feel more integrated, serene, and ready to handle whatever the day may bring.
In fact, I think it is appropriate to call that place of calm and prayer the "eye". My goal is for God to be my vision, to light my darkness, and to help me see the world through the eyes of faith. There is no day, no job, no conflict or problem, and no conversation that could not be improved with a good dose of divine calm at the center of it.
So why do I resist taking time every day for dedicated prayer time? It’s so easy to get started on my list of tasks for the day and never look back. In fact, I know if I get started on that list before I pray, it just isn’t going to happen.
Unfortunately, our society reinforces jumping right in and getting things done. In the business world, every minute of the day is to be accounted for. "Time management" is a buzzword intended to produce maximum achievement in the minimum amount of time, with a list of crossed-off items as proof. "Down time" is viewed as unproductive or selfish, and people who need it are considered weak at best and lazy at worst. In this milieu it is easier to get swept up in the storm and keep on going.
The only way to be consistent about prayer is to make it a priority. In the same way that I plan my time so I never go out the door without being properly dressed, I need to plan my time so I never go out the door without being centered in God. Just like brushing my teeth, it has to be a "given" rather than an option.
Jesus needed that, too, and modeled it for us. He could handle every storm (literal and figurative), the press of the crowds, and the constant demands on his time, energy, and resources precisely because he knew the source of his strength. He knew how to unplug, disengage, sink into the eye of his heart, and draw on the peace of God that is beyond all telling.
Every day, I need to resolve anew to let the hurricane swirl around me for a while so I can sit with God in the eye. The hurricane will still be there afterwards, clamoring for attention. Yet God doesn’t shout above the din to proclaim peace. God whispers peace in the stillness. We need to wrap ourselves in our cloaks, listen to that quiet voice within, and sit in the eye of the Almighty.
Amy Florian is a teacher and consultant working in Chicago. For many years she has partnered with the Passionists. Visit Amy’s website: http://www.amyflorian.com/.