by Rosemarie Pace
Pax Christi New York
(Ed. Note: At key moments throughout the liturgical year, long-time regional coordinator Rosemarie Pace will offer reflections timed the season with accompanying prayers and suggested actions. This is the second in the series.)
As Ordinary Time continues its long stretch between the Easter season and Advent, we continue to have the opportunity to step back and reflect on the experiences of the past couple of months. What has happened? What have we learned? How have we grown? We know Ordinary Time in the liturgical sense is meant for such contemplation, and what a necessary gift that is!
If there is any doubt, just think about what neurologists tell us about the importance of sleep:
Sleep is an important part of your daily routine….Without sleep you can’t form or maintain the pathways in your brain that let you learn and create new memories, and it’s harder to concentrate and respond quickly.
Sleep is important to a number of brain functions, including how nerve cells (neurons) communicate with each other….Recent findings suggest that sleep plays a housekeeping role that removes toxins in your brain that build up while you are awake.
….Sleep affects almost every type of tissue and system in the body – from the brain, heart, and lungs to metabolism, immune function, mood, and disease resistance. Research shows that a chronic lack of sleep, or getting poor quality sleep, increases the risk of disorders including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity.
[In addition] everyone dreams….dreaming may help you process your emotions.~From “Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep” by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
This is not to say that we should sleep through Ordinary Time, but to say that we benefit enormously from time to rest from the demands of more active seasons. It’s the same reason vacation isn’t merely a luxury, but an important time to recharge our internal batteries and why taking a break before an important exam can be more helpful than cramming right up until the exam begins.
It’s true that life does not stop during Ordinary Time. That’s not the point. What is the point is that we allow whatever does happen to be processed, internalized—or dismissed if possible and preferable—and transformed into the better, stronger, wiser, more faithful, loving, compassionate persons God is calling us to be.
Thank you that you make all things new. Thank you for all that you’ve allowed into our lives this … year, the good along with the hard things, which have reminded us how much we need you and rely on your presence filling us every single day.
We pray for your Spirit to lead us each step of [the way]. We ask that you will guide our decisions and turn our hearts to deeply desire you above all else. We ask that you will open doors needing to be opened and close the ones needing to be shut tight. We ask that you would help us release our grip on the things to which you’ve said “no,” “not yet,” or “wait.” We ask for help to pursue you first, above every dream and desire you’ve put within our hearts.
We ask for your wisdom, for your strength and power to be constantly present within us. We pray you would make us strong and courageous for the road ahead. Give us ability beyond what we feel able, let your gifts flow freely through us, so that you would be honored by our lives, and others would be drawn to you. We pray that you’d keep us far from the snares and traps of temptations. That you would whisper in our ear when we need to run and whisper in our heart when we need to stand our ground.
….We pray that you would give us discernment and insight beyond our years, to understand your will, hear your voice, and know your ways. Amen.
(excerpted from https://prayerist.com/prayer/renewalofthemind)
Although Ordinary Time continues, things do pick up in the fall, whether it’s the re-opening of schools, the resumption of meetings that took a summer break, the beginning of new projects, or something else. Don’t let them distract you from the on-going gift of Ordinary Time.
- Make time to stop, breathe, relax, and pray, and remember to listen when you pray. Listen for God’s voice guiding you, but also comforting you when life’s stresses start to bubble up.
- Take time to sleep! Don’t skimp on this vital, healing necessity of life.
- Don’t neglect recreation, which is also re-creation. If running refreshes you, do it. If making music or creating art nourishes you, set aside some time for that.
- Visit with friends and family; God often speaks to us through others. And don’t be afraid to daydream. You may just find God there, too.
- Share this PSA with others. Invite them to join Pax Christi and to participate in its many opportunities to listen, learn, and grow in the Peace of Christ.