Time Out for Grown Ups

August 31st, 2012

Why do we waste “time out” on kids? Why can’t I have a time out? I would love to be sent to my room—to sit quietly for 20 minutes.

If you think about it, there’s a spiritual phrase for “time out” it’s centering prayer. Now for some of you, you might say that is a bit of a stretch, but hear me out. As an extrovert—friends laugh, almost hysterically, when I’ve said “I’m going on a silent retreat.” When they stop laughing and realize I’m serious, they often look puzzled.

In our noise obsessed culture, people rarely experience silence. Even as I sit and type these words there is white noise playing overhead. But what if we adults started to say “I’m taking a time out” and then took it. What if we took a time out o settle ourselves down, to center, to listen (in silence) to what God might be trying to say to us? What if we sat and when a thought came, just offered it up to God in prayer and then let it go, to return to silence?

I am convinced if I took 20 minutes a day, even twice a day, as Father Keating suggests, to center, to be still and listen—I would begin to hear a still small voice, God’s voice in my life. And I believe that I would begin to change ever so slightly, maybe even become more like Jesus, more Christ-like. And then maybe, just maybe—I could teach the children (and adults) that “time outs” aren’t so bad after all.

Further note: Many people read portions of scripture slowly and then practice silence and then repeat this process to help them center and to sit with the passage, not to do some deep theological study, but just to let the words and God speak to them. This practice is called Lectio Divina. I would love to tell you I am an expert at this. I’m not. But I am practicing, I’ve listed some books you might find helpful as you practice this spiritual discipline.

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