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Stop, Pray, Work, Play & Love

So much of our stress and anxiety derives from our pollution of Time. God has given us the gift of time, and called it holy, yet we often experience time as a curse. Recapture time as a gift and discover how to experience the joy of the present moment.

Monastic Wisdom

for everyday

This six-week journey of reflection on time is now available as an anytime series for individuals and groups. Subscribe to receive the series' video meditations from the SSJE Brothers directly in your inbox, or scroll down and view the videos below. This video offering is accompanied by a helpful workbook, as well as facilitation guidance for small groups from the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary.

To receive this offering in your inbox, as a daily email for six weeks, add the date you would like to begin. (We recommend that you start on a Sunday to maintain the weekly sequence). If you are going to follow this series as a group, we suggest that everyone coordinate the same start date to receive the videos in sync.

Whether you feel a sense of having too little time for all the demands of life, or whether you feel lonely amidst too much time, God is calling you to connection. God wants us to use our time not just wisely, but sacredly, in order to thrive. No matter what stage of life we are in, God’s invitation is that we be intentional in how we use our time in order to discover the abundance of life God desires for each of us.

Over the next five weeks, we invite you to join us in reflecting on our use of time, focusing especially on how we might take time to stop, pray, work, play and love. Together we will ponder our use of time, asking God to help us weave together the various threads of our lives into a beautiful tapestry in which each part of our life informs and complements the others, and enlivens the whole.

Facilitator’s Guides and other additional supporting materials are available online here >

Theological Reflection

Redeeming the Gift

Br. Geoffrey Tristram proposes that much of our stress and anxiety derives from our pollution of Time. Ordering our relationship to Time can help us to experience the joy of the present moment.
Read more >


A 16 page easily printable workbook with reflections and space for daily questions.

Download here >

Facilitator Guidance

In partnership with SSJE, the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary has created resources to help your community get small groups going.

See full support resources here >

Week 1 Day 1: Time

“The gift of time is one of God’s greatest gifts to us.”

Br. Geoffrey Tristram identifies time as one of God’s greatest gifts, and one that we have sadly polluted and damaged. It’s time to … redeem and restore our relationship to time, so that we can enjoy our life and glorify God.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 1 Day 2: Priorities

“Time is a gift from God, but very often we experience it as something that brings stress and an anxiety into our life.”

Br. David Vryhof shares his hopes for what blessings considering the role of time in our priorities and our lives might yield.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 1 Day 3: Sabbath

“For so many of us time is a tyranny; there’s not enough of it, it’s the enemy.”

Br. Curtis Almquist links our current struggles with time to our need to be virtually present, which means we are missing where life is really happening: here and now.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 1 Day 4: Purpose

“The common enemy in our relationship with time is always distraction: mindless activity that we engage in.”

Br. John Braught identifies intentionality as the key to reclaiming time as a gift.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 2 Day 1: Stop

“Of all the things that God creates, the one thing that he calls holy is the Sabbath.”

Br. Geoffrey Tristram reflects on how God models for us the importance of stopping in the book of Genesis.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 2 Day 2: Accountable

“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.”

Br. John Braught shares a helpful monastic example for structuring the day into specific periods for work and other activities.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 2 Day 3: Liberation

“We’re not meant to just be tools of productivity.”

Br. David Vryhof reflects on how resting from work helps us to reclaim our inherent dignity as human beings.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 2 Day 4: Being

“How beautiful it is to do nothing and afterwards rest.”

Br. Mark Brown invites us to embrace our identity as human “beings,” not human “doings.”

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 2 Day 5: Drawn

“God is not commanding us to love but drawing us to love, and for that we must stop.”

Br. Jonathan Maury connects the importance of stopping with God’s invitation to love.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 2 Day 6: Contentment

“Now is what is most important, not what is new but what is now.”

Br. Curtis Almquist invites us to explore the monastic concept of “contentment.”

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 2 Day 7: Observe

“It’s almost as if the Sabbath day is written into our DNA. ”

Br. David Vryhof considers how crucial taking a Sabbath day is to our make-up, our happiness, and even our success.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 3 Day 1: Pray

“As long as we are aware, we can be praying.”

Br. Robert L’Esperance encourages a view of prayer that moves beyond the cushion and the chapel — and out into our everyday lives, every day.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 3 Day 2: Place

“Praying the labyrinth in public at a busy intersection has actually been quite a gift.”

Br. Luke Ditewig explores how the challenges we face when praying in unusual places can become an invitation to surrender and reflect and turn, the very invitation we need today.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 3 Day 3: Intercession

“We have stopped the grind of chronos, moment after moment, and have entered into kairos, the time which is God’s eternal now, God’s eternal love.”

Br. Jonathan Maury celebrates the many ways in which we can stop, throughout our day, for moments of prayer.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 3 Day 4: Gratitude

“I find it sometimes amiable to say, “Thank you, God” when I wake up in the morning, but more often I’m in more of a hurry to get the alarm clock turned off.”

Br. David Allen shares how he voices his thanks to God thought his day (often even in Japanese!).

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 3 Day 5: Unity

“Our praying together actually requires a great deal of attention, even discipline.”

Br. Mark Brown invites us to reflect on how the practice of corporate prayer can attune us to those around us.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 3 Day 7: Present

“It doesn’t come through a booming voice; it comes very subtly. It comes through a relationship; it comes through an idea; it comes through something I’ve heard in Scripture in church.”

Br. Jim Woodrum reflects on how his sense of prayer has changed since coming to the monastery, and how he now recognizes the presence of God with him in many subtler ways throughout the day.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 4 Day 1: Work

“I think so often we take and take and take, we work and work and work, and we slowly, in agricultural terms, degrade ourselves and become more and more tired.”

Br. Geoffrey Tristram asks: ‘What do you need to give back to the soil of your soul in order to be balanced and sane?’

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 4 Day 2: Action

“The powerful thing about religion is that it teaches us that there is a value in simply doing something.”

Br. Robert L’Esperance considers how sometimes our actions are even more powerful than our emotions or beliefs; in fact, our actions shape them!

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 4 Day 3: Return

“To be loving in work is to provide a place that’s safe for others, where they feel accepted. And I can most do that when I feel safe and accepted.”

Br. Luke Ditewig encourages us to nourish ourselves first, in order to be able to love others.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 4 Day 4: Boundaries

“How can you limit your access to things and others’ access to you?”

Br. Curtis Almquist considers how limits can give us life.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 4 Day 5: Worth

“For many people, whether they really know it or not, there is a kind of deep sense that how they perform is directly related to their worth; their value as human beings is dependent on how well they perform in their work.”

Br. Geoffrey Tristram invites us to be freed from this delusion and to know that our worth has nothing to due with our portfolio or our résumé.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 4 Day 6: Intention

“The busier we get, the more we need these times of reflections; and the more fast-paced our life is, the more we need to find times to slow down and step back and ask ourselves important questions.”

Br. David Vryhof advocates for taking an intentional approach to work: stepping back and considering the long view of how small decisions feed our larger goals and priorities.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 4 Day 7: Rhythm

“I think if we can take a lesson from the chickens: the chickens need a break from egg laying, and I think we need a break every once in a while.”

Br. James Koester takes a lesson in productivity from the chickens at Emery House.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 5 Day 1: Play

“As we choose to play, we continue to literally create our brains.”

Br. Luke Ditewig marvels at our human capacity for — and need for — play, not just as children but throughout our lives.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 5 Day 2: Wholeness

“All of us are works in progress.”

Br. Curtis Almquist shares how his hobbies make all the difference in the ongoing transformation of his life.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 5 Day 3: Spontaneity

“We’re playing creation; we’re playing salvation; we’re playing eternal glory.”

Br. Jonathan Maury finds that a spirit of playfulness is never out of place, even in church!

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 5 Day 4: Consumed

“I can get completely lost on a nice afternoon in the beehives or, amazingly enough, I love to shovel the chicken coop out.”

What can be fun about shoveling out a chicken coop? Br. James Koester observes that the true pleasure of play is often very close to that of work: complete absorption in the task at hand.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 5 Day 5: Soaked

“And there was thunder and lighting, and there were huge puddles on the way back going along Auburn Street, which I splashed in, and it was really delightful, and I loved it.”

Br. Luke Ditewig recalls how a stray thunderstorm brought out his inner child and transformed his sense of play.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 5 Day 6: Adventure

“God delights in us being delighted, just like a mother who is sitting there, delighting in the fact that her baby loves the ball.”

Br. Jim Woodrum invites us to consider the playfulness of God who, like a momma, delights in our discovery of the world.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 5 Day 7: Create

“I often find that I get to play in the monastic life when I’m meditating on Scripture, because I find there’s a playfulness to the poetry, to the images.”

Br. Jonathan Maury explores the playful energy of scripture through a hands-on exploration, and encourages us to do the same.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 6 Day 1: Love

“We are commanded to love one another. We don’t have to like it.”

Br. John Braught asks: What does it mean to make time to love?

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 6 Day 2: Authentic

“Whatever our plans are – love is actually going to wipe that out.”

Br. Jim Woodrum invites us to let go of our expectations about love and simply receive it as it comes and as a gift.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 6 Day 3: Identity

“Presume that why God has extended your life into this day, is for the cause of love.”

Br. Curtis Almquist locates our essence in love.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 6 Day 4: Yippee

“The moment the alarm clock is turned off, Sophie bounds out of her bed and lets out one sharp yip. And it’s like I imagine her saying, ‘Isn’t this a joy just to get up?’”

Br. Robert L’Esperance takes a lesson in love from Sophie, the Monastery’s Labradoodle.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 6 Day 5: Respond

“Our love is a response to God’s great love, and we respond to that love with gratitude.”

Br. David Allen recalls how all love has its source in God.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 6 Day 6: Gift

“And there was just this amazing wash of just – all of this junk that had happened over time just being released – and it was a very pure moment.”

Br. Jim Woodrum remembers a most powerful experience of love from his own past.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Week 6 Day 7: Beloved

“Our chief identity, our main identity, is that we are beloved children of God.”

Br. David Vryhof encourages us to open ourselves to the love God wants to give us and to affirm in us, day by day.

Watch the video and share your reflections >

Pray 6: Becoming

“One of my favorite quotations comes from Mahatma Gandhi, the great spiritual leader of India in the twentieth century: ‘We become what we yearn after, hence the need for prayer.’”

Br. David Vryhof ponders how our desires and decisions shape our lives and our world — and necessitate our prayer.

Watch the video and share your reflections >


  1. […] or groups: Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John, Five Marks of Love, Growing a Rule of Life and It’s Time To…Stop, Pray, Work, Play and Love. Life Transformed – The Way of Love in Lent, offers resources based on Presiding Bishop […]

  2. Janet on April 10, 2019 at 14:59

    Cooking is one, this is a project with the satisfaction of closure as presented in the video, and ritual that we have explored before. Gardening is a favorite for the opposite reason, no closure, endless delight. Editing photos, as I immerse back into time that was playful, adventurous, loving.

  3. Tim Shepherd on March 8, 2019 at 05:55

    I am looking forward to this years Lenten Course as I found last years so helpful. Thank you

  4. John Crenson on April 10, 2015 at 07:47

    Thank you for being my Lenten guide and beyond

  5. According to Plan | Planting Word Seeds on April 4, 2015 at 12:34

    […] through Lent, I wrote about how difficult week five was. This was the week that my SSJE devotions centered on the theme of play. I’ve since spent some time pondering why those devotions were […]

  6. pat taylor on March 22, 2015 at 23:59

    About loving when not liking:

    This afternoon our Grief Support group met. We were reviewing what has been wonderful in lost relationships. One woman said that her husband had always loved her wholeheartedly. She laughingly interjected that he did not always like her and often she was not being very likable but he did not stop being with her, for her, ready to interpose himself between her and anything that might threaten her. Others in the group agreed that disagreement, supposed slights and other barriers could temporarily get in the way of liking but that loving was the ground of their life together. Some said that having been loved made them safe for the rest of their lives.

  7. Maren on February 26, 2015 at 08:36

    It is amazing that God just want us to take time each day just to “be”.
    Just to be in HIs presence. Nothing else. He just want us.
    Something so simple. So refreshing in the stillness. Yet so many of us
    avoid silence like the plague. Why is that? What are we afraid of?
    I like to start out my day sitting in the stillness of early morning just
    “being” with God. It feel so right.

  8. Maren on February 23, 2015 at 09:02

    Using the resource Seven Sacred Pauses by Wiederkehr, I love to go through my day stopping for prayer at certain times of the day. It helps bring me back to God although I am never really away from Him.

  9. Br. Lorenzo Thomas OSL on February 18, 2015 at 19:29

    Very excited for this Lenten series!

  10. Mavis on February 18, 2015 at 16:45

    Thank you for this series. Is there any way that I can receive the emails early in the morning Australian time. At present they come at 9pm.

    • jcoats on February 18, 2015 at 22:13

      Mavis – the system we use will try to adjust to your time zone but takes a few days. Open the email everyday. Let us know if it does not change by the weekend. Jamie friends@ssje.org

  11. MURIEL on February 18, 2015 at 11:10

    Thank you a thousand times, this will be my second lent to listen and learn

  12. Very Rev. Dr. Donald P. Richmond on February 13, 2015 at 14:26

    “…a time for every purpose, under Heaven” –The Byrds via Ecclesiastes
    May each of us, most especially during this Holy Season, find ways to redeem time and grace each moment with the “righteousness and peace” which is found in, through, and by Jesus Christ alone. Thank you, SSJE, for these postings.

  13. Dr Norman S Steward on February 4, 2015 at 20:46

    This series will be exciting. I plan to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday as well as give more generously to the poor during Lent. As well as follow a strict whole food diet during Lent. I hope to come to visit the brothers in the very near future. My Priest, Fr Max Wolf ( Rector-All Saints Church and St. George’s Chapel) Rehoboth Beach, DE. highly suggested this to me.

  14. Margaret Dungan on January 31, 2015 at 14:25

    I have never been as excited as this as I anticipate Lent this year.

    Margaret Dungan.

  15. Grace Bennett on January 28, 2015 at 16:21

    Our church will use the SSJE resource for an online Lenten study and discussion. Our Parish serves a wide geographic area; we need a sense of
    community! We pray that the online community will help us refocus and nourish our souls.

  16. Vicki Larkin on January 28, 2015 at 09:08

    Good morning: I am making this request on behalf of The Rev.’d Canon David Burrows of the Parish of the Ascension.

    We plan to use your videos during lent. Can the videos be made live earlier than the start of lent (Feb. 18th) as we want to be prepared. Or maybe a sample of a video. Please advise.
    Thank you.

  17. David Golden on January 21, 2015 at 14:04

    I am looking forward to beginning this journey with you. It all sounds very interesting, and I am sure that it will be beneficial to me. Thanks

  18. Jason Haddox on January 21, 2015 at 13:56

    We are inviting members of the parish to subscribe and use the series as our common Lenten devotion. I’ve downloaded the pdf of the booklet–but there doesn’t seem to be a worksheet for the days between Ash Wednesday and the first Saturday?

    • Reviewer on January 23, 2015 at 10:04

      Thank you for writing, Jason. The videos for the first four days, Ash Wednesday through Saturday (February 18 – 21) actually do have questions at the end, although they do not appear in the workbook.

      We would recommend you ask people to try to read through the workbook prior to meeting for the first time and that, along with the introductory videos may serve as a sort of overview and orientation for everyone.

    • ssjeadmin on February 19, 2015 at 02:37

      Hi Jason,
      you can download the first weeks worksheet here:

  19. Cathie Roy on January 19, 2015 at 19:34

    I already subscribe to your daily thoughts. I’m wondering if I still need to subscribe specifically for this Lenten offering. If so, please subscribe me. 😉 Winter Blessings, Cathie

    • Reviewer on January 20, 2015 at 06:10

      Thank you for asking. If you are already subscribed to the daily meditation, “Brother, Give Us A Word”, no need to subscribe, you will receive the Lenten series each day.

  20. Charlotte Williams on January 13, 2015 at 15:16

    Dear Friends at SSJE,

    My husband who is an associate passed his copy of the Lenten booklet on to me. I am elderly — my 82nd birthday is next week — sick,and tired. I thought that this booklet might give me focus and give me some direction.

    May God prosper you in His work,

    Charlotte Williams

  21. Frances Aboud on January 9, 2015 at 12:20

    I want to thank you for all that SSJE does and provides for our daily spiritual lives. I am looking forward to this 2015 very special Lenten study. God’s Peace and Blessings

  22. Tom on January 8, 2015 at 00:15

    My copy arrived in today’s mail. Thank you– for the gift of this offering, and thanks be to God– for your gifts of presence and hospitality, friendship and fellowship. You are a blessing to this pilgrim…. a lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path….

  23. Chris on January 2, 2015 at 18:14

    I am so looking forward to taking time this Lenten season to focus on the time I spent with the Lord in prayer, through my work, play and love. Thank you for this inspirational resource.

  24. GIllian McMullen on December 30, 2014 at 17:08

    Thank you so much for this! I’m looking forward to it. Your Society is a constant source of inspiration.

  25. Elizabeth C. Sands on December 26, 2014 at 15:59

    Sounds wonderful.

    Profound thanks!!!

  26. The Rev. Canon Catherine Gregg, D.Min. on December 23, 2014 at 18:46

    I have always been blessed by your Lenten studies, and look forward to this one as well. It is a gift to journey together through these holy days.

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