Easter is over – or is it? The Easter season now stretches before us extending to Pentecost on June 5th and I want to make sure we make the most of it. This is the season to celebrate the new life that Christ brought into the world and this year I plan to do that by focusing on our new Godspace theme Restoring Rhythms and Seasons. When I introduced this theme to our writers I told them I particularly wanted to focus on “how do we re-anchor our lives in the earth’s story. In his recent book Worshiping in Season – Ecology and Christ Through the Liturgical Year Joseph E Bush Jr states:
Throughout the Christian drama, creation is centrally involved, not only as the stage on which the play is set but also as the object of Christ’s love and the very terrain of salvation history. (Worshiping in Season – Ecology and Christ Through the Liturgical Year xi)
I am more and more convinced that whether we live in the city or the country, we need to listen to the earth and how its rhythms are meant to guide our lives. How far we have strayed from this was reinforced for me in an article I read last week on strategies for making the most of every day. I cringed because every suggestion focused on work and productivity. Not a single one acknowledged the importance of creation in the rhythm and purpose of our days. So I decided that as a beginning place for restoring God’s intended rhythms for our days I would make my own list. Of course some of these suggestions I have talked about before, and they don’t all revolve around creation, but I find I need constant reminders to keep me on track and I suspect you do too.
Ten Strategies for Making the Most of Every Day
- Listen – begin the day with prayer or scripture reading or meditation. Whatever brings light and life to your soul is an important place to begin each day. If you can draw an element of God’s creation into that practice, as I do by focusing on my contemplative gardens, I think you think you will find even more nourishment for your soul.
- Sit with God – invite the presence of God into every project you embark on throughout the day with a short prayer. One of the things I love about Celtic Spirituality is the rich prayer life that meant ordinary people prayed as they lit the fire, planted the seed and walked on a journey. With a little creativity we can craft prayers for our daily tasks too.
- Breathe – punctuate your day with stretches and breathing breaks. Did you know that as we grow older our breathing becomes shallower and taking a deep breath is a more conscious effort? For both our physical and spiritual health taking deep breaths for a minute or two at regular intervals throughout the day is rejuvenating. You might like to use one of the breath prayers I have written over the years, or go outside and take a few deep breaths. My favourite is a quick walk around a small part of my garden while I do that. If you think that the air you breathe is too polluted or too filled with allergens, or if your work environment won’t allow it, take a quick walk to the lunchroom or go talk to a colleague across the room instead of sending them an email. Take some deep breaths as you walk.
- Exercise – daily exercise is good for both our physical and spiritual well-being. For me that means awe and wonder walks each day. A great way to connect to God’s creation in my neighbourhood.
- Spend time in nature – you might prefer to get your exercise in a gym, but how about sitting in the local park a couple of times a week for lunch? You may not like gardening like I do but how about a nature walk or visit to the beach? For some of us getting out into nature is not easy, but the more we do it the more we find it enriches our souls.
- Be Hospitable – now that we are able to get out and about again many of us feel that we need to relearn the art of hospitality, but there are simple ways we can connect to the people around us throughout the day. A greeting to the cashier in the grocery store, a smile and hello to the homeless person at the corner, a cup of coffee for a coworker are all simple ways to show the gift of hospitality to those around us.
- Have some fun – when I asked my Facebook friends “have you had your daily dose of fun?” several commented “I am too busy for that.” Sad. Jesus encourages us to “become like children” and we can’t do that without getting out and having a bit of fun. Playing, laughing, doodling, reading a children’s book are all activities that enrich our lives and return God’s intended gift of play back into our daily lives. (And if you haven’t read it yet you might like to get a copy of my book The Gift of Wonder to help you on the way.)
- Take a nap. Did you know that people who take an after lunch nap are so much more productive afterwards that those who don’t nap cannot equal their productivity? Lots of high-powered execs take daily naps. I know this would be hard for a lot of people but even a short nap at your desk can make a difference. Or perhaps you can gather some of the research on this, present it to your boss and suggest that everyone in the office has 1/2 hour for a nap each day!
- Take screen breaks. Did you know that looking at computer screens all day can ruin our eyes. Take a break every hour. These breaks don’t have to be for long periods of time. Every hour or two, take a few minutes to get up, go for a short walk, and stretch your arms and legs. Yes you’re right this can be combined with several of the other suggestions above. All you need to do is figure out the best way for you to combine them.
- Give thanks. Ending your day with prayers of gratitude, keeping a gratitude journal that you write in each evening, composing a gratitude prayer you can say before you go to bed are all ways to end our day by giving thanks to God for the goodness of the day that has passed. One exercise I find particularly helpful is to write down three good things that happened during the day and thank God for them. When I focus on thanking God for the goodness God blessed me with it is amazing how my perspective on struggles can change. I hope it does for you too.
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Join Christine Sine, Tom Sine, and others for Inhabit 2022 on April 29-30th in Seattle- a live conference by Parish Collective. Explore stories of hope and be encouraged to be the church in your neighborhood. You are not alone – the everyday realities are carried by us all. Click here for more info!