By Erich Wallace
Good day, my friends! It’s fun to find a little inspiration and be back writing. I hope you had a blessed Christmas and are enjoying this wonderful season! I’m realizing how great it is either being in school or having worked at a school for the majority of my life because you get so much time off during the holidays. I feel a little guilty (but not really) because there are so many people with real 9-5s and a limited amount of vacation time… y’all are the real heroes! Anyway… I’ve been trying to find inspiration on what to write on for this month and something finally came to me: the power that a few extra moments given to something can really have. Let me explain.
As part of the Journey Program (a priesthood discernment program) I am doing in La Crosse, we have a fair amount of scheduled time for prayer. We pray Morning Prayer (from the Liturgy of the Hours) every weekday at 7:05am, have Mass directly following that, pray Evening Prayer together twice a week, and pray Night Prayer on our own most nights. We are also supposed to take half an hour for personal prayer each day on top of that. I’ve been struggling to make the half an hour of personal prayer every day and don’t always hit all of the Liturgy of the Hours when we don’t pray them in community, but for the most part, there is quite a bit of scheduled time to pray. What I have found amusing over the last month or so, though, is that in all of that time for prayer, I have struggled to connect with the Lord in a deep way, to really settle in and open my heart to Him. However, when I have popped in the chapel at a time not officially scheduled for prayer after classes or before bed and have taken a few extra moments with Jesus, it is in those times that I felt His presence in a much more real way. As I continued thinking about this, I have realized that a few extra moments can make a big impact in many areas of life if we make the choice to put them to good use.
Think about taking exams: how many times in high school or college did you want to get that exam over with and get out of the classroom as soon as possible, so you didn’t proofread and got it back later to find you made some simple mistakes? I did that SO many times! Why not take a breath, realize a few extra moments could save you some real grief, and look over your work to make sure you didn’t accidentally circle “C. Jackie Chan,” when the question was “Which Major General led the Union soldiers to victory at the Battle of Gettysburg?” You know your professor put Jackie Chan as an option because he is arguably the most entertaining action star known to man, and it is very likely his name would distract you from the real task at hand and you would circle an incorrect answer. But, if you were to go back and review your work, you may discover where you had been tricked by your crafty professor (maybe). Or how about with exercise and taking a few moments to warm up beforehand or stretch out afterwards?
I don’t know about you, but I was not a guy who made time for warming up or stretching out pre- or post-workouts growing up. Now that the big 3-0 is lurking around the corner, I have been converted by the old guys in goggles who spend a good 4 minutes stretching out their quads and hammies before hitting the pick-up basketball court, and those physical therapists who talk about stimulating your central nervous system with a dynamic warm-up before a run. For real, taking a few extra moments to warm up before a race or sporting event can greatly enhance your performance, and stretching out afterwards can significantly speed up recovery time and reduce soreness. Do you believe me? No, because you’ve never done it. Give it a shot! Another time when taking a few extra moments can have a big impact is in having a conversation with someone when you’re in a rush.
Do you ever run into someone at the grocery store who you haven’t seen in a while who really wants to chat when you just want to get out of there? Instead of being anxious the whole conversation about what you have to do next, slow down. Try to reset your perspective with the fact that taking a few extra moments isn’t going to hurt anyone, and be present to that person. They may really need it. Disclaimer: this can be done to a fault and upset people in your life if they are waiting on you to get home with the milk or are out in the parking lot waiting to pick you up (saying this for a friend); but if you’re not holding up other people, make the time. Really listening with a calm heart – rather than giving someone short answers and paying attention only partly because you’re more focused on your next task at hand – can make a big difference.
To conclude this rather short blog: it is true that we each have a limited number of “moments” in our lives, and we may want to get one thing done and be on to the next as quickly as possible. However, I would argue that those moments we do have will become much more valuable if we take a few extra of them for our relationships, especially the one with Jesus, for looking over our work, for warming up before and stretching out after workouts, and for our conversations with others.
P.S. Let us not forget the most crucial times to take a few extra moments: Fellas, to clean up after you’ve peed on the toilet seat. Nobody wants to sit on that. And, at the end of any Marvel movie, you know those extra scenes are coming and you don’t want to be out of the loop.
Merry Christmas (if you’re reading this and it isn’t the Baptism of Christ – January 12th this year – yet, it’s still Christmas!), and blessings on your New Year! Praying that our resolutions can last at least three weeks rather than three hours. But, if they don’t, remember that you are still loved unconditionally by the One Who made you.