Ministerial Musings: And Miles to Go Before I Sleep

Yes, Lakewoodites, as we saw animated in a recent edition of The Observer, I am often late getting my articles on the editor’s desk. More often than not, I run into my good friend and publisher Jim O’Bryan at the Root Café — on our way to our respective offices — and I ask him if I still have time to get my Musings in before the paper goes to print. Jim is always gracious, and I am always grateful.

Life is busy, is it not?

If you stop for a moment and think of all things you have to do, you quickly realize that you really do not even have the time to stop and think!

There is the shopping that needs to be done, the dishes that are piled high in the sink, and the laundry crying, “Fold me!" There are the different schedules that vie for your children’s (and by default your) attention: soccer practices, piano lessons, play dates, and so on and so forth to infinity and beyond. And then there are those overdue expense reports that you need to get to your boss in the morning, so forget that episode of Boardwalk Empire that you recorded. It will have to wait, along with that novel your friends say is a must-read.

The woods are lovely dark and deep, but you have promises to keep…

I am exhausted writing this, knowing that so much of this defines my life. Always busy. Always on the go. So much to do. Calgon, take me away!

Why is it that the things that matters most — our spirits — are often the things we neglect first? We see our time to pray and meditate as luxuries, not necessities, so they are the first things to get erased from our “To Do List” when other demands surface.

Face it: if a client calls and asks you to go to lunch, it is perfectly acceptable to decline if you have a meeting with your boss. However, we would never ever say, “I can’t, because I will be praying at that time.”

See what I mean?

But this is why we need to feed our spirits; this why we need time out, time alone with God. We need to create it for ourselves, because no one else will.

As with starting a new fitness routine, getting started and maintaining the discipline are difficult to do. As with starting a new fitness regimen, we need to be deliberate, but we need to start slow.

Set a timer for ten minutes. Sit in the still silence. Breathe. You do not have to offer a well-crafted, erudite petition to God. Simply sit in the silence. Clear your mind as best as you can and focus on a word (such as peace, hope, joy, love) or a particular verse from Scripture. Repeat it over and over and then pause to simply listen — to listen for the still, small voice of God.

Do this each day for a week. Certainly you can spare ten minutes!

Once you get used to it, you can increase your time and vary the way in which you pray. The key is to just get started — to carve a moment out of your day for you and God to spend time together.

Yes, we all have miles to go before we sleep, but we will never make it if we try to travel the road alone.

John III Tamilio

John Tamilio III is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, an accomplished guitarist, and a nationally published author. His first book of poetry, Blind Painting, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Letters in 2003. He and his wife, Susan, live in Lakewood, Ohio with their children: Sarah, “Jay” (John IV), and Thomas.

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Volume 7, Issue 21, Posted 7:12 PM, 10.19.2011