Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Last Long Weekend Of Summer

This last long weekend of the summer was a quiet, uneventful, and leisurely time for me. I had no commitments so my wife and I stayed close to home. I only ventured out twice and one of those times was to visit my father in the nursing home. It was a good visit and he is doing as well as can be expected. One thought I had during this visit is how much old age and illness makes everyone equal. My father never finished high school. He shares a room with a man who I'm told was a Harvard professor. Dad has adapted to the routine of nursing home living and, if not happy with his circumstances, he at least seems content. During the times I am with him he never complains about the hand that life has dealt him. The rest of the weekend I got plenty of rest without sleeping my leisure time away. When I am able to sleep eight hours at night, there is rarely need for nap. Yesterday I simply relaxed while keeping an eye on the news coverage of Hurricane Gustav and another eye on the pot of chili I had simmering in the kitchen. I am glad the chili turned out to be good because I will be eating it again for lunch today.

As far as I am concerned, summer ended this weekend. We are entering into my favorite time of the year. The next long weekend will be Thanksgiving weekend.

When I have very busy days I try to find some quiet and peaceful moments somewhere. Once, while sitting alone in a break room at work, I was lost in my thoughts and eating Scooby Doo Graham Crackers that were shaped liked dog biscuits. I took them from the cabinet at home where we keep treats for my granddaughter, Chloe. These thoughts, however, are not about Scooby Doo or Graham Crackers. They are about making time in your day, no matter how busy it is, for some silence and solitude. Most of our lives are filled with busyness and many activities and demands. Our lives can make us feel like spinning tops. Sometimes this makes us feel like our lives are out of control. Sometimes we spin so fast and for so long that we feel we cannot stop. This is not good for human beings and sooner or later you will come to a stop because you will have crashed. It is important to take some time throughout your day, if only for a few minutes, to simply stop and breathe. That's what I was doing while eating my Scoopy Doo Graham Crackers. While eating them I quietly said, "O God, come to my assistance. O Lord, make haste to help me". This short prayer is the opening to all the prayers said by the monks at the monastery. The have selected prayers for every part of the day. These prayers are called the Liturgy of the Hours. Many people know these types of prayers as "Monastic Chant". The monks begin their day in the middle of the night with Vigils at 3:15 AM and end their day with Compline, also know as night prayer, at 7:30 PM. Their entire day is broken up by these pauses for prayer. Most people living in the world cannot formally stop six or seven times a day and spend 15 - 30 minutes in prayers. I do wish business offices had non denominational meditation rooms where employees could have personal quiet time on their breaks and lunches. What I do throughout my day, when the Spirit moves me, is attempt to have a quiet moment within myself. No one knows when I do this and it doesn't draw any attention to me. I need to do this for my own spiritual benefit and to maintain some sense of centeredness in my day. I encourage all of you to periodically pause in your day and retreat within the solitary place that's deep within you. It is the pause that refreshes.

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