Week 2 Day 2: Accountable
Question: Where is your invitation to stop during the day?
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Transcript of Video:
What’s interesting when you talk about “Time to work,” is that my immediate reaction would be, “I need to make time not to work.” And a lot of people would find, themselves, that work is the kind of default setting: that you need to work and you need to make money and that I have to be intentional about not working. I think that maybe the invitation here is to think inversely. It’s actually good to be intentional about when you work. And that does mean stopping at the appointed time.
But it also means being very focused during the times that you are working. I think for me it is easier to break this up into bite-sized chunks throughout the day. So I might say, “Ok that between 8 and 9, I’m working on this,” and that’s what I do during that time. It’s making time to work: it has a beginning and an end, and even if the project is not done at 9 o’clock, I’m done.
Now we have an advantage here at the Monastery, in that we have a bell that rings ten minutes before four services every day plus a Eucharist, and so that is always a clear indication to stop the work. And then I might not be able to get back to that particular project that day. This is an advantage, although it is certainly not any practice that anyone is exempt from – stopping their day to intentionally eat, or intentionally pray. That advantage is I have eleven people waiting for me in Chapel who will have questions for me when I don’t show up. For me that’s one reason to join a monastery: it’s for that accountability – and we all need it.
-Br. John Braught
When you are doing something you are very passionate about, it’s not really work. There are times when I’m working on my music and I’m am lost in time. Hours go by and I don’t even know that they have. One of the reasons I don’t want to stop when the energy is flowing so intensely is that that feeds me like nothing else. I need that passionate energy. The invitation to stop comes from my body. I’m getting tired or losing focus or I’m hungry. When I look at the clock I’m always surprised at what time it is.
What I’ve noticed recently, is that the “timelessness” is beginning to have a pattern and the stop time is more and more frequently at the same time. What feels good about that is a good pattern is beginning to form just by the repitition.
I need to consciously give myself permission to stop, it has become easier and easier and I can better identify when I need to and when stopping will bring me joy. I am now recognizing many invitations – from people, nature, and within the city, many inspirations to stop within my day, every day. I am much better for it and also able to give more of myself to others.
My invitation to stop working is the system we have at work to take breaks and lunch, At home on days off I try to set up a schedule that includes time for prayer study and recreation. My schedule at work is 4pm to 1am. I am learning build a schedule around it. To answer the question I do not have anyone thing calling me I have to regulate myself.
I do not have scheduled “stop” times. However, i have recently discussed this with my spiritual advisor. Will see how it goes.
Morning upon rising. Work Break, lunch, break. In the car with traffic hold ups. Evening and night prayers.
God reminds me to stop when I am tired and need to have a break.This happens through listening to my body. I might intentionally clean the house all morning. In the afternoon when I am feeling tired, I have a nap. Right now, as well as my daily devotion time, I am spending time working on this study, and participating in Lenten Madness. I am resting today by going out to lunch with a friend. It all depends on the time, season, and the day of the week how I work and rest. In the spring I have more energy in the winter less. Some days I might feel nudged to do something and then have a rest afterwards. It also depends on what is happening on any given day. I might be interrupted in what I am doing, and be made to rest or pray.
My stops are
…morning coffee and read a newspaper
….4pm banjo playing time
….8pm television with a crossword
I use the ringer on my computer to remind me.
I freqeunlty fail the 4pm session….I will aim to do it more regularly
For me, it often comes from other people, reminding me that I need to take care of myself.
My invitation to stop happens at the end of the day. I wish it happened consistently at the beginning of my day, but I like to sleep in and then rush to get out the door. Or if I am awake earlier, I’ll get distracted by email or morning TV. So in addition to a few moments when I’m in the car (though I don’t have a long commute), my main stopping time comes at bedtime. I love to read before falling asleep. But my choices of reading material vary a lot. I will go for months reading the lives of the saints, Celtic prayers, or poetry, and then I will get caught up in a murder mystery and read nothing but that for a few weeks. Whatever it is, I always fall asleep while reading. (My husband usually has to come and take away the book or Kindle and turn off the light.) Hmm… I wish I could settle into a routine of devotional reading before bed. But my good intentions get sidetracked too often.
If I didn’t set a regular time, I wouldn’t meditate at all.So between getting out of bed and breakfast, I go to a room alone, light a candle, sit still and meditate. When I have to travel, I miss it. If there is a free 5 or 10 minutes in the evening, I meditate again. My brain is busy, but it calms down.
If I didn’t set a regular time. I wouldn’t be able to do it. I’d forget or be too busy or preoccupied. Between getting up and having breakfast, I meditate. When I don’t, I feel I’ve missed something. If I can find a free 5 or 10 minutes in the evening, I meditate again. My brain is whirling, but it appreciates the desert clam.
This is a difficult question to answer. At first I could not think of a single thing. Then a couple of things came to mind: food, morning coffee. But bells, their equivalents? Not a lot. During each day. In each day’s rhythm. Wow. An inviting question. I have had such, but have become very accelerated. There’s prayer in my life, but does it invite me to stop?
The idea of “invitation” really catches me. I would love to have a response for this that fits the question. Today I noticed walking as such an invitation.
I am retired so my time management is completely up to me. Every evening around 7:30 is stop whatever I’m doing and join my husband in the living room. He watches TV and I read. I love this time of day!
I am so appreciative of this series on Time as each time I receive an email, it is a reminder to Stop. I have tried scheduling other times of the day as points to stop but I need to continue to consciously choose to practice the principles described in this series. With deepest Gratitude,
Since I seem to be driven by my calendar/schedule, I am trying to pay as much attention to the stop time as the start time that I put on an event.
I have issues with my boyfriend who does not value the same spiritual life I do. He wants to spend time doing more mindless things than I do and is not interested in the contemplative life…..I am trying to live a life of discipline and he is not….anyone have any ideas?
In one of the videos the Brother mentions that God has created us in His Image. I think that this impinges upon everything we are and do.
God has not abandoned us. He gives us extra love and protection by creating us in His Image.
Being created in the Image of God means that we are truly human. It means that we have great value because God is our Father and we are His Children. Our decisions are not completely selfish and self-serving but do consider other people’s wants and needs. We can live a full life and use the gifts that God has given us.
An image is a copy, not the real thing. For we certainly are not God. However, we are in God’s image in that we know right from wrong, good from evil. We are capable of loving others, of living a peaceful life, of being pure and chaste.
One of our most important jobs is to treat everyone justly and fairly. We are created in the Image of God who is just. So we may be just too. Everyone may be pure, holy, and righteous, live good moral lives, be joyful, appreciate beauty.
Because we are created in the Image of God, we may share in a very small way with Him in creation. Have children, plant a garden, write a book …..
My invitation to stop happens at the end of the day, when I head up the stairs to my bed. However, I still end up reading or thinking obsessively about the day or the coming day. I think that should be a “full stop”… a period. I want to quiet my mind, think on things higher, and totally relax into a blessed and restful sleep.
Being retired, I can respond to a mid-day flagging of energy, inviting me to a short nap. This was not possible during my working years.
Just after grad school I took a job until something opened up in my field ( heathcare). The job was doing inventory with pencil and paper. Good work environment but I remember being struck by how strange it was to leave work with a project unfinished. Prior to grad school I worked in direct care (healthcare) and if a client needed something done you stayed until the task was complete. Now I am taking care of my mother and depending on her needs my schedule for a particular day can be and often is tossed out the window. Talk about “coming full circle” …
Stop. Is that a word in the English language ? So far through these wonderful Lenten videos I am seeing I have alot of serious work to do with time. I work so much owning a small rest. I go,go,go. I remember Bishop Shaw saying how mornings were a time when he did his praying and spiritual devotion. I ma try and use that as my stop time to begin Figuring out when my stop time should be.
When I first encountered the question about an invitation to stop, I thought that my life has the problem of no invitation to stop. But when I read one person’s posting that her dog nuzzling her is her invitation to stop, I realized that my two cats provide a similar function of inviting me to stop.
I realise I have done this with other aspects of my life but have allowed time to be a tyrant. A long time ago I realised that my day would actually have more and better quality time if I began it with The Lord, but I have let circumstances put that acceptance into the too hard basket. I have health issues which limit my physical abilities in an unpredictable way and I have allowed this to excuse a slide into unintentionality in my use of time. I am also coming out of an extended period of depression in which time could be a most terrifying enemy to be got through rather than lived. This Lent I would like with The Lord’s help to ‘just do it’ – that is make God time a non-negotiable commitment which happens regardless of flood, fire, fatigue or foolishness. I think lines of songs from scripture will be my best aid as a signal to stop.
I am is a person who loves to work. I started working, volunteering, when I was 13. I loved it. As an adult it took me a few degrees and several false starts to find a career that I was passionate about – and I did, in my 30’s. I learned that being passionate about your work is a joy that presents its own set of problems. As my son grew up I was able to work more – bringing work home, going in early, staying late, and going into an empty building on Saturday to work. That pattern continued until the day I retired. Now I find that I am back in the pattern with a part time job and work with my church. I feel the stress at a time when I should be feeling the peace. This series on the abuses of Time is just what I need. I am challenged to face my problem. Thanks to the Brothers, I have learned to pause, at least occasionally. The most powerful pause in my life occurs when I visit the Monastery. I stay there for a short retreat several times a year. The Monastery requires that I Stop, Pray, Play, and Love in the silence, the beauty and the peace that the Brothers provide. It is my holy place and my place of peace. Now I must learn to Stop, Pray, Play, Work and Love daily in my everyday life.
I keep very busy doing domestic things and caring for my husband. But I am not really accountable to anyone for my time. What I am accountable for is that no one else dies for me. Ultimately I am accountable for my life, how I have lived it.
I think the question shines a light of truth on my life. I don’t have an ‘invitation’ to stop. Where – I don’t know.
But the question itself fascinates me. I would think God beckons us to stop at any moment during the day. But I never thought of it as an invitation to stop. I will look for that in my life and actually try to pick a time each day to stop.
I really struggled with this question.
In a writing workshop a few years ago, I was encouraged to reflect on where I found my “carencia”, my safe place. My carencia is my bed. At that time I was studying for a masters degree and sitting in my bed, surrounded by my books and papers and with my computer, my bed was where I loved to work and where I felt free from my disordered relationship with time.
There are three times a day that my bed offers me the invitation to stop. One is when I awake in the morning. I reach for my tablet and open my Morning Prayer app and begin my day with a long-standing ritual of the Anglican Church. It perhaps an invitation to “not start the busy yet” rather than to take a break from it! The second time is when I go to bed at night. I read or connect with people on facebook, I say Compline before turning out the light. The third time is usually around three in the morning. It doesn’t always happen that I awake then, but when I do, it is a gift from God. This is the most productive time for me to read, and when I have had my fill of Bradford Keeney, or Esther Hicks, or Archbishop Justin Welby or Rowan Williams, or whoever is catching my attention at the moment, I turn out the light and return to sleep.
I’ve always been a structured person who lives with time table and list. I gave myself a n allotted amount of time to do a task, if it wasn’t done I would either push myself to complete it or feel quilty about not finishing it. Now with retirement I have learned to let go of that. If I don’t finish a task I leave it another time
Time to work or time to stop is like so many other things in our lives. For me, it has to do with balance. Resting and working need to coexist in order for me to feel centered. Both can be a struggle at times, but finding the balance between struggling and peace is also part of the mixture we must learn to live with.
My feeling that I may miss something in the life of my wife, children, community, etc. if I don’t stop.
Working at home, alone most of the time, I find that it’s actually harder to build in a “stop” than when I had a job outside the house. Then, I made a point of taking a walk every lunch hour and I left work on time, etc. I am not someone who just keeps working into the evening and is constantly checking emails, etc—at least not work related ones. I don’t even have that many of those.
But I think, like the brothers, it would profit me to use my phone and set a bell for a few times a day to “stop” and take a minute. There is always more to do and dumb stuff to surf around on the internet looking at. Since formal breaks don’t present themselves naturally, I need to create them. I do always stop to eat lunch and don’t work while I eat but I need a little more than that. And to make sure that I’m outside at least briefly, every day I can be. It’s easy to have a day go by where I never leave the house. I don’t think that’s a good thing.
There have been times when neither pain, hunger, being tired, or the need to use the restroom have kept me from working. I don’t always have good stops during the day, so I’ve stopped working on Fridays and that has given me more time to focus on other parts of my life. I also started going in later to make sure I had time in the morning for prayer, reading, writing and meditation. Maybe I will get a bell schedule an alarm on my phone. Not quite the chime of the monastery bell…but it might do the trick!
Mealtimes and evening prayer time (just before bed) are my invitations to stop during the day; I’ve had the bad habit of working while eating, and not really savoring (or tasting, in some cases) my food. I’ve begun to discipline myself to put work aside and concentrate on enjoying every minute of my meal, especially the ones I’ve prepared for myself.
Time to stop is holy time.
I share the difficulty many have with knowing when to stop. But I have over the years used different discilplines or rules that have been helpful. One is to pray at a certain hour using the book of common prayer ( a simpler form of praying the hours), for instance at noon or at 9pm. These days I have a strict rule that I do no work in the morning ( especially email) before I say a prayer or read Forward Day by Day, even if for 30 seconds. This is to acknowledge, even if in a cursory way, that all days belong to the one who created them, and I am lucky to share in this one day.
I have a set routine every morning and every evening. Morning: breakfast, devotional reading/daily scripture, intercessory prayer, meditation—then the day. Evening: journal the day, meditation—then to bed. I make a point to have three distinct sit down meals per day and everything else comes in between. As a retired person, routine is my best friend. I also keep my date book handy for making and following through with service commitments. The discussion of “down-time” is timely as a counselor just mentioned today that we don’t have to earn our right to relax and be “idle.” This refreshment is vital for our spirit and, can be considered a gift of grace that does not have to be earned. The only way to learn balance, for me, is to pray that God will help me be teachable about good stewardship of time.
I lost my career during the recession and have been working at a subsistence level ever since. Stopping, for me now, is grabbing a few hours sleep between jobs.
I so desperately need accountability, but I so often am defensive when criticized. Now, I’ve got a small circle of friends who I trust and love, and who care about me who I will listen to when they hold me accountable. It’s a two-way street; not master and slave, but as friends.
Where is your invitation to stop during the day? – Depends upon what day I’m in…Mondays & Tuesdays at school we pray (over the P.A.) before school starts, before lunch & before dismissal. Everyone stops – well most of us – there are the kids that are still in constant motion even during prayers – but we do stop, & I try to really pray. At home it’s harder – my other days are not so structured, but I try to stop in the morning before I start my day to have a “Quiet Time”. Sometimes I have to do it later, like today. It would be nice to have a bell ring…
…stop when i pick up my books…go from this world into another…
I stop when my body tells me that I need rest. This is usually an afternoon lay-down with a book that sometimes turns into a nap.
My invitations won’t be coming at the same time every day, given my sleep patterns, volunteer commitments, and the weather for outside exercise. But I will be attentive to the daily invitation when it comes. Being retired does require discipline, I’m discovering.
I’ve been thinking all day about this idea of accountability. My husband works very hard to walk away from his office at 5:00 so that he can have dinner with me and our children. I refuse social invites for Sunday mornings so that I can attend church. I had never thought about it in these terms before, but my husband feels a sense of accountability to us, his family, and I feel a sense of accountability to the other members of my church. I have also been feeling a growing sense of accountability towards God and responding to that by making more time for prayer. Thank you Brother John for this particular word, accountability.
My invitation to stop is usually my husband asking me to do so (e.g., to go on a walk or come help make a meal), and while sometimes my acceptance is grudging (because I was on a roll or working to a deadline), I’m usually thankful for his intervention. We joke that he is my abbot and I am his, providing accountability and guidance. What’s funny (in all senses) is that I’m the church-goer and God-seeker, not he, but he seems to have figured out sabbath rest and work-life balance much better than I.
Forgot to mention–my husband and I both work from home. He has devised a delightful built-in stop: whenever he figures out something, solves a problem of some sort, he gets up and walks across the room and kisses me!
This a tough question! Well at work I get scheduled breaks but since I do [hysical labor I invite myself to rest whenever I feel fatiqued. When at home I push myself past exhaustion
Wow, this is a tough one for me. I’ve gotten into the habit of working odd hours and long hours and getting easily distracted and procrastinating. So when something is due…I don’t really feel an invitation to stop until something is done, even if I’m on Hour 12 or 14 of work. I would like to become more monastic in my habits with a schedule that includes not just work, but prayer, creativity, and time to relax.
My invitation got lost in the mail, I think. But now I know I should have an invitation, I will figure out a way to invite myself.
I stop whenever my body needs it. I keep pillows and a foam roller and a neck massager and a yoga mat in my office, and I turn off the lights and just lay on the floor for about fifteen minutes once or twice a day. This is all I need to rejuvenate with a “power nap.”
Definitely the discipline of praying each morning has enabled me time to stop each day. Now that I do it, I find that if some reason I don’t pray one morning it’s like something big is missing from my day. Ensuring I have time to pray every morning is something I continue to work on. But it’s been so worthwhile
A few years ago, my position at work was re-evaluated, and it was found I was doing so much more than my job description that the position, in essence, had changed. My boss put me in for a promotion/redefinition of position, and I requested that I keep my “Overtime-eligible” designation. He pointed out to me that overtime was never approved within our department, and I responded that this was exactly why I wanted to keep the designation. By keeping the designation of “Overtime-eligible” I would be in jeopardy of disciplinary action by HR if I worked more than 40 hours per week. This is my signal to “Stop”. I love my job, and will happily work all weekend, but this is not good for my home life, or mental health. I have since scheduled walking breaks and lunches into my calendar as daily recurring appointments, and work my meetings around these pre-scheduled events.
My signal to stop is when I’m feeling tired and or hungry. Or I might have something else happening at a certain time which means I have to stop what I’m doing. I think that I am good at resting. I don’t force my body and mind past these certain limits, but have down times during the day. Depending what I’m doing that day it could last only a few minutes, or it could last a couple of hours. I am very lucky, because I organize my own time. Up to a certain point I can do things when I want to do them; and rest when I don’t.
With my husband, I stretch out on the bed in the afternoon. I close my eyes and lay on my back with a pillow under my knees. I am quiet and once in awhile fall asleep.
When I’m alone, I move from one task to the next (all those chores I cannot do when we are together) during the day. And yet, I know the value of just “being.” I must look for my invitation!
I think I stop because someone tells me to stop which is more of a demand. I often forget about the time because I get caught up in what I’m doing. After reading some of the people’s posts maybe I should look at putting a sign on my computer to remind me to pause. Stopping is hard.
I don’t think I know “stop.” I am trying. Sitting on the back porch during warmer weather, looking out in nature, drinking a cup of coffee… But when it is cold out and I am stuck in the house – there is very little “stop.”
Since unemployment, I am struggling to create a workable routine for me. I tend to get up in the mornings, have breakfast, and check my emails. Following that, I am somewhat lost. I am working hard to stay away from the television for company. I am doing a lot of reading lately which I did not enjoy much as a child. After lunch, I tend to read my book and then take a short nap. Once my family arrives home from their respective jobs, I start dinner and tend to let time escape me without actually enjoying this time for prayers and reflection. This is something I need to work on for myself throughout Lent and to continue as my rule of life.
Yesterday I decided that I would stop after doing my journaling related to the day’s homily and question, during Lent. The five to ten minutes that I can sit still after that work will be a lovely ending to that part of my day. I’m hoping to carry over the practice after Lent. Sitting in silence is a precious new gift that I plan to connect with whenever I need to. Thank you!
My husband frequently interrupts my work (I work at home at a computer) to be silly and sweet, and sometimes I’m reluctant to lose my train of thought when he comes in. But it’s really OK. It might be a good idea for me to be intentional about finding small stopping places, get up and move.
I am pretty sure my bosses would not be okay with me dividing my time as suggested. I pretty much have to work until the task is done … and if that means working late or coming in early that is what has to happen. I do, however, take my “breathing breaks” – time to take a breath, say a prayer, or just sit and think. May people come and talk to me about their concerns throughout the day … I will take time to pray after they leave, to give it to the Lord immediately. These breaks are the most important part of my day – don’t tell my boss that!
Whew! As others have commented, this is the hardest question thus far to answer. It was easier when I was working. A 30 minute commute on a country road was a great way to reflect and relax at the beginning and end of the day. Since retirement, it seems I am constantly busy with projects and events and don’t take the time to intentionally stop….even missing lunch to continue what I am doing. Here’s where I should say that I will establish a schedule to make intentional stops throughout the day, but that would be unrealistic and I know that. I will move the idea forward, however, and ponder it throughout the day.
I am an online professor and can work at any time … which I do. Sadly, I just brought a cup of yogurt into my office to have some breakfast while I caught up on emails. Yes, count me among those who have boundary issues when it relates to time.
Like another poster, I enjoy work … but I also enjoy not working. I am so happy to have this Lenten study focused on time. It is sacred – yet I often don’t treat it that way. Thank you for the opportunity to wrestle with this fundamental issue.
I have to stop after work just when I get home. A bit of stretching, then meditating and if I am lucky a five minute nap. Makes a huge difference in my evening, I am able to get more done and I am nicer too.
I start the day with email, which is a combination of some personal and mostly work. I address most personal matters right away, then the pressing work issues. I also review my calendar for the day and rest of the week. The break is to take a hike, have tea, breakfast, and then back to work, but addressed in a more ordered fashion knowing what’s in my inbox and work meetings.
I am a new seminary student, who also works full time, and tries to manage life, volunteerism, family and time for myself. I set a block schedule of sorts on a large calendar with color coding, and it helps me to visualize the day. The invitation to stop, pause, and step away from work happens mid day by having a light lunch in the garden. Some days it is a challenge to remain more than a few minutes, as the list of to do’s pound es upon me in my head, yet– it is exactly the stepping away that gives me the energy and I tentionality required of my work and studies.
I stop my day intentionally when my husband gets home from work. This is the time we focus on each other, and download from the day.
Stopping is difficult for me. I was raised to believe that stopping and just being quiet was wrong. I well remember my parents scolding me for just sitting and not doing a thing. I’m 74 and I still remember that!
I know I must stop to contemplate my God and all I am because of my Creator. But, I am dogged by the old messages I received growing up.
I am able to stop and just be with God once in a while, especially when I have experienced something that reminds me that I am not in charge, and at the same time, all that I am is of God.
In some ways it was easier when I was working. I was always very focused when at work but always getting away from my desk during my lunch hour. At the end of the day, in the summer months, I could walk for 25 minutes to meet my husband which I found was a beautiful, peaceful time where I could talk to God, thank him for the day, be aware of the beauty and country sounds around me. In my retirement, although I now don’t have to “clock watch” so much, as an impulsive and “on the go” person, I really have to rein myself in, centre myself, stop, pray, try to plan how to use this precious time to best advantage. I find a ride on a bus into town or a train ride is a really good way of having to just sit, be still and although there are sounds around, I can zone these out and reflect.
Usually it comes from my dog letting me know he needs to go out and I need to walk, because I’ve been working on whatever for too long. That time to be outside, walk and communicate with my God is precious and renewing.
Usually my body will tell me it is time to stop and rest.
When it does not get through to my brain, my guide dog will gently brush her muzzle against my leg to tell me, “You need to stop all this unnecessary activity and snuggle with me for a while.”
I am retired now so I think my intentional stops during the day are muddled. I do quite a bit of volunteer work for my church that has deadlines attached but, for the most part, my days can be structured as I want them. I need to practice being more intentional and structured about my days; having stops in them.
Thank you Brother – an invitation to stop is interesting in my life at present. When I am at college – it is the coffee break, meal times that get me out of the library along with the daily offices. At home, I tend to listen to how my body is feeling and then respond …. my husband has a sandwich lunch each day at home so then I join him and stop. Over the years I have become ‘better’ from my point of view about rest (had pleurisy last year) which has helped me be aware of the need to stop …
I have ‘intentional’ stops: at the beginning and end of each day when I practice a short Examen to keep myself accountable for my day. There are also ‘unintentional’ stops: when I’m helping a person or family in crisis, or when I’m stumped by something I have heard or read about…
I work from home and I can easily sit at my desk writing for hours, even forgetting to eat lunch. I can hear the neighborhood sounds of life going on outside and I particularly know the sound of our mailman driving down the road. I actually love getting the mail so I disciplined myself to try to ignore sound of the mailman’s approach. I thought going down our long driveway to get the mail would be a distraction, especially if there was something in the mail I felt I had to act on right away. But now I see retrieving the mail is my invitation to stop. I get to go outside, breathe fresh air, and take a bit of a walk. It’s an opportunity to relax and recharge and it only takes a few minutes. So from now on the mailman will deliver my invitation to stop, and I will happily accept it. Thank you for helping me notice this.
The narrative in my head is one of constant urging to work, and real guilt about stopping. I love the idea of being intentional about work times, and equally as intentional about stop times, understanding the stopping point as an invitation into the life of God rather than a breaking point in my resolve to get things done.
Since I have retired I find that I procrastinate more and do not intentionally make time for work or stopping. Use of my time and learning to stop intentionally would be a good discipline for me and one I need to be working on. Thanks for the reminder.
I usually start my day with breakfast, do the dishes and than do my office. then continue on my chores for the day. i try and go over to see john at least twice a week or more. usually go to church wednesday morning and play bridge in the afternoon i think it is better when you know what you are going to be doing that day. jane
I see a lot of people struggle with this, as I have all my life. I’m trying to use sunrise and sunset as invitations. When I go on retreat and have the support of a community, it is so much easier. I have stopped guilting myself about my inability to sustain a perfect practice at home; the sight of my meditation pillow used to trigger pressure to “do” one more thing. But just like work is easier in an office, the effort to stay on task at home with a family requires stronger intention. One can get heavy about it, which does no good.
So, my first stop is always compassion. Drop the “should” and remind myself that stopping is delicious, a privilege, and one I am worthy to receive. If duty interrupts, accept that with a light heart. So try again later. I want to be fully present to whatever the day asks of me, and on those days when a few deep breaths in the car park are my only stops, let it be perfect just like that. When I have time to really stop, I am so grateful.
Lisa, wanted you to know your response to the question was just beautiful. Your comments really resonated with me. I like your idea of using sunrises and sunsets as invitations. I also love your phrase “guilting myself”. It is so important for us to have compassion with ourselves as well as with others. Thank you again Lisa.
I agree. Very astute observations and I would like to use the sunrise and sunset “stops”. I go to work before the sun comes up, but I can still look out a window and see God’s gift to me of light, and pause to be grateful.
Once I get up in the morning, despite good intentions, it seems like I am forever on the move. I’m the type of person that needs a routine that provides discipline, and a community of others doing the same to provide encouragement and reinforcement. Both are lacking at the moment.
I have similair thoughts as to Elspeth! I like the idea of being accountable to others to help create the invitation of stopping. Before getting started in the mornings is the time that I stop. Seems like a paradox…before even starting the day I stop! The challenge is later in the day when I want to practice stillness that it is hard to quieten down. . Having a community to be accountable to might help.
I have found in retirement that I have many opportunities to get more involved in helping people and volunteering in peace advocacy movements as well as interfaith groups, bookclubs, ZUMBA, tutoring, hospice, etc. You see where this is going. I do need to take more time for short ‘stops,’ especially when I am getting tired. Indeed God wants me to be a ‘cheerful giver,’ but not a worn out one!
I think I would like to try the monastic life. But that probably wouldn’t work with my kids! Ha. 🙂 Back to the question, I have to be intentional about stopping, that’s for sure. My paid work is very flexible, except when other people schedule meetings, then it’s not flexible at all. Kind of a paradox. 80% of the time it’s very flexible. I try to stop in the AM after the kids are on the bus. I do my morning reading, journaling, and for this Lent I’m blogging. I have an hourly bell on my phone that dings as a reminder to me to take a deep breath. I like having someone to be accountable to, but for me that is only weekly at this point. I will think about increasing that frequency. Accountability really helps me!
This brief, but commanding reflection, has inspired me today to set a daily alarm on my iPhone for 12:01 PM so that I may stop whatever, whatever, whatever (!), and pray. I might add to the online discussion here the crucial issue of finding a place away from other people for these moments of prayer and self-reintegration. That is rarely easy, but I will work at it. I would think this one is more easily accomplished in a monastic setting, but maybe not!
The word that pops out at me in listening to this meditation on stopping – is “intentional”. This concept has arisen for me time and time again. I need to intentionally work, play, stop, reflect. Time isn’t the enemy for me, it is being mindless, not intentional in my purpose and how I use my time.
Taking the time to stop is unfortunately not one of my strengths. I seem to have a battle in my head where I know I should stop and draw a line under a job, either to come back to it or to tell myself that it’s of a good enough standard to finish it. But I often end up spending more time perfecting my work or trying to get to a certain point where I’m happier to leave it. And before I know it, this has encroached on time I should be spent doing other things like going home or spending time with loved ones or relaxing. I need to be stricter with myself and listen to that ‘stop’ in my head more often.
I read every response and I realize my dysfunctional relationship with time is not unusual. I’m going to select specific times for certain activities with the intention to stop when time is up. Stopping for tea, eating intentionally, are also goals to help me unwind this craziness about time. I have to place these intentions on my calendar or I’ll be too busy to stop for them! Now off to my calendar.
It’s good to know we are all traveling together isn’t it Judy. I’ve been thinking about how I can have a better rythme to the day, perhaps have set times for things. My days are all different though so maybe the thing is to choose a couple of ‘stopping points’….’God stops’ if you like, which can always be included?
Each day I spend an hour reading the liturgy for the day, your website messages, and several other sites meditations. Being retired, I work around our home in Redding and my wife’s ranch in Weaverville either doing lawn work, gardening, bring in wood and pellets for the wood stoves. Iyt is great exercise but I have stenosis (narrowing of the nerve canal) in my lower back between L5/S1 which cause deep pain in my lower left leg. This causes me to sit down for periods of time, 5 to 10 minutes, to rest my leg and back. it gives me time to assess what I am doing and to contemplate the messages and meditations I read earlier before returning to work.
This reply reminds me of the biggest lesson I carried forward from last year’s Lenten series; to ask myself what is the invitation in a given circumstance. This has been a tremendous way to transform what may appear to be a negative, and I have found that this discipline also is helpful preventing negativity to spiral. I am so grateful for you specifically mentioning that stenosis may force stops. While you mentioned the pain it may cause, and I am sure that is difficult, you presented it in a matter-of-fact way, without citing how it could be limiting or complaining about it. This strikes me as another example of how even within painful, or challenging, or unjust circumstances, there is still a light we may find, there is still the hand of God at work, and there is still the opportunity to grow and learn.
I am able to stop for lunch and because my work has me being at multiple locations throughout the day, that also gives me time to stop and sometimes take a more leisurely walk to my next location.
Thanks, Br. John, for this reflection. Certain rituals are geared more towards when we “start” something, but things like lunch, prayer, sleep, shutting off the t.v./computer can be intentional times to “stop”.
I love the idea of stopping during my work day and being intentional, even if it were intentional with my eating. However, I am a teacher and stopping during the day is nearly impossible and even frowned upon by your fellow teachers. There’s always so much to do as a teacher or kids that need extra help or a lunch duty to be covered or …
I am struggling with morning meditation, as I find myself hitting the snooze one too many times and then it’s time to watch my Lenten videos and respond, but at least I’m taking time for that. And doing my other Lenten readings at night time. I think I need to remember to just breathe and although those will be smart “stops” during the day it will at least make me mindful!
I clearly have trouble stopping when I need to stop to eat, rest or play. Each day presents it’s own challenges to fulfill the dreams God has for me. I love to work. I love to pray. I love silence, which is all too often shattered by the ring of the phone or a place to go. I seem to always be aware of time which is often a joy and a tool to break up a variety of tasks. But not always.
Starting my day with prayer is no problem. But “stopping” in the midst of a busy day is very hard. I’m using the new Daily Prayer for All Seasons from Church Publishing this Lent to try and help me remember to “stop.”
On rising, lunch, dinner, bedtime- now if I can just stick with that, turn off devices, be intentional.
I “stop” before I come downstairs in the morning, but that’s more a dose of peace and a girding of the loins for the day.
I teach school, so I don’t have many opportunities to stop during the day – but there are some. The bell to release for lunch would be a good one – to intentionally leave behind the responsibilities for just a bit. And of course the bell to release school for the day – I need to NOT carry work – physical or mental – home with me.
I love evening prayer but I have trouble stopping to practice it. I think I need to schedule my activities on my Outlook calendar. I am good at scheduling appointments, but I need to schedule time to do my projects. I need Intentionality in my work.
My workplace (a hospital) encourages mindfulness and sounds a gong at 11am and 9 pm. Those are good transition times. Stopping and breathing and remembering why we work is encouraged. I need to pay attention to those cues.
Good question. I can’t think of anything. Perhaps that is why I seem to never stop….perhaps I don’t stop enough. Need to think about that.
Like Sister Irene, this is a very good question. When is my invitation to Stop??? Making me realize that I haven’t given myself permission to stop and that is what I need to do. So today forward I will try and remind myself to Stop even if it’s just a 5 minute break to breathe and take in the wonder of what is around me.
My invitation to stop usually comes at 3:45 when all the children in my school have gone home for the day. (Not “stop” really – just “pause” for a cup of tea or conversation.) After cleaning up and recording data, I will go home to have dinner, and then get right back to work (writing reports, creating materials etc.). There’s just a compulsion to keep working until everything is done, even though I know that’s not possible (until June!)
My efforts at stopping during a day vary by what the day holds for me, and often what the next day offers. I wake up and spend a few minutes in God’s word, and then pray as I walk my dog. But once these are over, there’s no stopping! I could look at it as though I intentinally stop work on evenings when I have church or volunteer events. But really in my mind I’m just moving from one thing to the next without stopping. I think I need to actually stop at X-time, take a few minutes to put away the work in my mind, and then move on to the next thing. That few minutes could really make a difference for me.
My primary invitation to stop working is an exercise class I do 5x a week. I need to come up with some additional invitations.
I thought when I retired from ‘paid’ work that it would be easier to stop – and, focus on the important things. I like the idea of using “accountability” to make those necessary changes – also framing activities – even volunteer work can intrude on one’s life. Thanks!
For most of my active working life I’ve held ever increasingly responsible positions in a major Fortune 500 firm. What that means is that I could work it 24/7 and still it would not be enough time to complete all tasks to the degree I would have liked to see. I finally realized that I was never going to have all the time I needed, so that forced me to evaluate every thing I had going on in my life (spouse, family, church, God, health, friends, home work, sleep, eat, vacations, etc.,) and limit the hours I could spend at work to 52-55. When I did that I was forced to do two things…. 1) ruthless prioritization, and 2) selective quality control. If I practiced those two disciplines then work prospered and I felt good about walking away at the end of the day.
I like the idea about setting time limits on how long I will “work”. Being retired seems to say that I should have lots of time to do things, so I just keep on at things instead of stopping. So I did set Tea breaks at 10:30 am and 3 pm so I make myself stop and reflect while I drink my tea!
I, too, sometimes feel like I’m supposed to have lots of time to do things now that I’m retired. I like your idea of tea breaks and think I’m going to give this a try.
Others’ answers have helped me find mine! I do approach work with a time limit. Instead of “I’ll do this whatever it is” I say I’ll spend X hours doing that and then stop. However far I get is better than not having started at all…then pick it up the same way the next day until completed. Of course, yoga with savasana at the close, is a lovely stop.
This resonates with me- choose the time to stop and close up for the day. Beginning and ending the day with a short yoga practice is an invitation to stop ding and start being…
Nice to see your reply! Nothing to add.
I have a very busy day at work, and I often (quickly!) lose the peace of my morning devotional time–if I had it. Like dew that evaporates in the sun. My priest once recommended praying the noon prayer from the BCP at lunchtime (usually a hurried meal at my desk). I might try that.
Like many others, I stop at beginning of day with small reading and prayer. I’m now retired so I stop after lunch, crawl on sofa with book, out phone on silence and take an hour. Sometimes I nap; sometimes I don’t. But stopping after lunch is vital to my having another active chapter later in the day.
Being intentional about stopping would mean I would have to be intentional when starting. In the corporate environment that’s not a problem right now but when I come home and need practice or get things done at home, it’s more about how I feel at the moment. I need to be more intentional about starting as well as stopping.
I have times when my heart starts to beat more strongly, and faster than it normally ought to. My doctors have diagnosed some arrhythmia. I seem to get arrhythmic when my mind is “all worked up” about something. In a way I know that is time to put things down and let my mind work through what it finds pressing. Stopping sometimes involves changing my focus, and going for a walk.
When I was working, lunch with my colleagues was a time to stop. After lunch we would often walk before heading back to our desks.
Now that I am retired, though busy & active, my husband and I share lunch and a chat.
I start my day meditating; however I realize my challenge is during the day. I sometimes come home too late. Today I will focus on giving myself chunks of time to work, and then to stop working and to be intentional about my time.
My invitation is the small, persistent voice in my head that says, “Stop”.
I have a small sign on my desk computer that reads “sh” It reminds me to stop…to pause before I speak and to pray when I am stressed. It reminds me to be still and know that God is present…and He is…
Setting a time limit on preparation for my workwhich is teaching, doing the chores, internet, catching up with the news, even doing crossword puzzles etc helps me to stop and move on to something more creative or spiritual. This is a goal I have been setting myself, amd maybe I should prioritise the spiritual rather than the creative. I am hoping this will move to a more natural sequence.
I can stop at lunch, although I almost always work while I’m eating. I can stop when I get home, although I usually go on to the next home-based task. I always stop before bed to pray, but perhaps this is not enough.
Working without time out for rest and reflection can be a way to feed the ego. “Look what I’m doing! Look what I’ve accomplished!” Time out to seek God’s guidance in whatever we are working toward can be quite productive. Working without pause or boundaries can be counterproductive–errors are made, work goes in the wrong direction and we must redo.
The inability to stop working can also be, “Look! I have value! I have meaning! I’m not a waste of air and space!” Our society values results and pushes for them, by extension meaning that if we do not have X to show for what we did, then it did not count and maybe we don’t either. I’m watching a friend work himself into an early grave by being stuck in this dynamic. It’s all skewed, and it wreaks havoc with the hearts of ordinary people.
Ouch. Well, let’s just start the morning with a little ruthless honesty, shall we? 😉 The ability to stop, to be intentional about when I work or do anything else, for that matter, has been a source of constant struggle for me. My husband and I run two businesses from our home, and neither of us is good at stopping work or thinking about work. I see one big challenge is to make a shift from being Task Oriented, to Time Oriented. Without a time when work is done, it is difficult to feel the sense of satisfaction for a job well done since it never seems to GET done. The best I have managed so far is to quit around five on the one business and not answer the phone after that. However, as our other business is a farm, an endless list of chores seems to beckon, and “work” often ends when darkness falls.
STOP means consciously taking the time to allow rest in our souls. This is not an optional thing if I want to live a healthy balanced life. We need rest like we need water and air, we just forget that sometimes.
In a practical sense, I am currently assessing the list of business and household tasks to see what can be lopped off, what could be made easier, and what is actually necessary. Now I am adding doing some thinking on how to utilize accountability to assist me in learning to Stop. Good food for thought, Brother Braught. Thank you.
I have a very flexible job. If I have a church meeting or an event for the kids during the day I will stop working and attend to that. At the end of the day I do stop work to make sure I’m home for evening activities, but I go back to working once those are done.
Stopping comes at the appointed lunch time. At other times stooping comes when I am driving at sunset. My mind always wonder about God making such a beautiful place with such varied colours from the sky to the earth.
Tough one. I like working, it gives me a sense of importance, and meaning, and it’s intellectually challenging. I also have a lot of home tasks, they do because they are necessary.
My wife will sometimes say to me “Will you just sit down!”, And I see this as a demand to stop, rather than an invitation. Another job to be done – sit & watch TV.
Perhaps I should see it differently.
Perhaps what your wife wants is your attention and some of your time. A sense of sharing……
Of course, so many people see this “busyness” as a rewarding, admired trait in our lives today! But, while taking care of my Mother just before she died, I came to appreciate and treasure the people in my life instead. Of course we must be diligent in the professional areas of our lives, but I have never seen a touching exchange yet between man/woman and a computer! It’s taken me a while to bring this reality to my life, but I am thankful for the people, who pass through my path….not the machines, or the reports!
It’s the whole Mary / Martha problem, isn’t it? How to strike the balance between a tidy home and enough money for food & fun, and yet no space to have that fun & resentment about the effort.
I start my day with a time of stillness and prayer, but even that seems to be challenged by the ‘tick,tock’ of time and I wrestle against tiredness and wasting of time in the evening, to include a time of reflection (with varying degrees of success)…….maybe the judging the level of ‘success’ doesn’t help!
I found today’s question the most challenging yet!
I don’t understand why I have such a disfunctional relationship with time now. Seemed that I used to have so much more of it….even though I had a large family at home back then.
This Lent God is really helping me to face up to that and (I think) inviting me to reassess and reorder my life.
Please help me Lord as I seek to do that.
Deborah, you articulate what I am thinking and feeling very well. I have a very dysfunctional relationship with time. I have been sick since Christmas and just now am feeling better. I want to dive in and do lots but the dr cautioned me against that. Very hard. I like your challenge to reasses and reorder my life.
I feel things shifting already Lorna. Not in huge ways…..and not in ways I would have imagined.Let’s hope this Lenten journey leaves us both with a better relationship with time, one that it richer and allows us time to rest in God and to enjoy all the gifts he blesses us with.Xxx
I am doing something very basic. I need a reminder, or the hectic pace of the day will literally consume me. I have a sticky tab note that is stuck to my monitor. It simply says: STOP!!!! 1pm. It is working so far…
My day is divided into prayer, exercise, work and play. I start and end the day with prayer. Sometimes I get distracted when I am praying. I have prescribed exercises which I must do. For me, work entails house and garden tasks. I sometimes start projects which I think I can do for the day. Luckily, my body
tells me it can no longer be part of the plan.
my stop bell is my wife saying a meal is ready. Also 9 pm.
I agree with Lorna. You have a very articulate way of stating things.
This year has been very transitional for me and my husband. We downsized to a Patio home in a Senior Citizen Community. We are very happy with our choice, but I have had difficulty getting my time organized and often find it more of an enemy. Like you I think God wants me to reassess my life during this period of Lent. I am working on it, Pat
I try to take time to stop and reflect on God’s grace. To talk to Him about the concerns of myself and others. Most of the time I do this but sometimes I can”t , or to put it more honestly, won’t.