On April 1 I go on sabbatical. I am looking forward to it. It is a rare privilege in the world today to be afforded such time. The official policy of the United Church of Canada says that, “The daily practice of ministry may involve the pressure of many tasks compressed into too few hours, leaving little opportunity for reflective, prayerful time.” Of course that can be said of many lives, not just those of ministers and so as I have prepared for my sabbatical I have been wondering how more of us could be afforded the privilege. It seems unlikely that the government will include sabbatical time in the budget any time soon and so it will be up to us to make it happen. How can we carve out more time for prayer and reflection?
Well I found out this week that the average North American watches 5 hours and 8 minutes of television every day. 5 hours and 8 minutes! When I read that the problem of carving out more time for prayer and reflection melted away. The issue for many of us is not time constraint but time management and prioritization. We have fallen into routines that do not afford us the time to reflect and pray. We have given over that time to an entertainment industry that is very good at distracting us from more important work.
Prayer and reflection are work. Watching a rerun of The Big Bang Theory is easier. But without doing the work you are giving control of your life over to advertisers and whomever else is out to use you. Prayer and reflection lets you test your directions and decide if you are living the life should.
Now most cannot take the kind of time I am being afforded for this work but a start point would be a sabbath practice. Take one day a week and use it differently. Take one a week and stay out of the stores and leave the television off. At first it will be uncomfortable. It will be hard work but after some practice you will wonder how you ever managed without it.
I will see you in four months.