I don’t know about you, but I can get worked up about things very easily. Whether it’s the cares of life, pursuit of wealth or desires for other things – I unintentionally let external craziness mangle my attempts to maintain internal calm.
So every morning, I try to read or focus on something that will help me keep my peace in place – for at least a little while.
This morning I read a passage in a book by author Philip Yancey that truly inspired me to S…L…O…W… down, like nothing else I’ve read in a long time. Here’s the excerpt, followed by the citation for the book:
“I have visited Calcutta, India, a place of poverty, death, and irremediable human problems. There, the nuns trained by Mother Teresa serve the poorest, most miserable people on the planet: half-dead bodies picked up from the streets of Calcutta. The world stands in awe at the Sisters’ dedication and the results of their ministry, but something about these nuns impresses me even more: their serenity.
If I tackled such a daunting project, I would likely be scurrying about, faxing press releases to donors, begging for more resources, gulping tranquilizers, grasping at ways to cope with my mounting desperation. Not these nuns.
Their serenity traces back to what takes place before their day’s work begins. At four o’clock in the morning, the Sisters rise, awakened by a bell and the call, “Let us bless the Lord.” They reply, “Thanks be to God.” Dressed in spotless white saris, they file into the chapel, where they sit on the floor, and pray and sing together…..
I sense no panic in the Sisters who run the Home for the Dying and Destitute in Calcutta. I see concern and compassion, but no obsession over what did not get done. In fact, early on in their work Mother Teresa instituted a rule that the Sisters take Thursday off for prayer and rest.
‘The work will always be here but if we do not rest and pray, we will not have the presence to do our work,’ she explained.
I pray that some day I will attain something like the holy simplicity these nuns embody. In the morning I ask for the grace to live for God alone, and yet when the phone rings with a message that strokes my ego, or when I open a letter from an irate reader, I find myself slipping back – no tumbling back – to a self-consciousness in which other people, or circumstances, determine my worth and my serenity.
I sense my need for transformation and keep going only because that sense is the one sure basis for potential change.”
-Yancey, Philip. Reaching for the Invisible God. Zondervan. 2002. pgs. 83-84.
Question: I’d be curious to hear how you slow down or if you feel you can’t – and why not?