by Ralen M. Robinson

I wish there were more hours in a day.

Recently my life has consisted of scattered sticky notes full of memos, sleepless nights and a to-do list longer than the eye can see. These past few months, I have been running from one place to another with too few breaks. I feel overwhelmed, anxious and exhausted.

But I can’t afford to be tired! How many of us have days filled to overflowing and lists too long to complete? We promise ourselves that we will rest tomorrow — but tomorrow never comes and our calendars keep getting filled.

At the beginning of this Lenten season, I was exhausted. I started on Ash Wednesday, preaching the word for the people and myself. As I ministered and walked with my parishioners, I wondered — who was walking with me? I wondered when I would have a chance to be still and reflect. And then I realized that I had to intentionally set aside time for myself and then use this time to reflect more deeply on the sacrifice Jesus made for me and for us.

It is in these 40 days that I regained time, stillness and self-care, looking past the busyness that had seemed to consume me. I looked for joy in the hustle and bustle of life.

It is in these 40 days that I regained time to breathe and reflect. I slowed down my pace.

I realized that if I had walked too quickly to my next appointment, I wouldn’t have seen a little boy give his snack to a homeless man.

I would have missed hearing a confirmand challenge his classmate as he figured out that anyone who is called and answers that call can be a prophet.

I would have ignored the soulful song of the woman on the train belting a beautiful tune.

I would have missed the sunlight splashing onto the plants and flowers and exploding into the colors of a gorgeous rainbow.

If I hadn’t stopped, I would have missed it all. I would have been oblivious.

Lent is a time for trial and testing. My exhaustion could not derail me from refocusing on life. I had to find the simple joys and moments of stillness. I had to let go of the looming deadlines, lists, obligations, and things that I put above everything else.

During Lent, we are called to strip all those things away, remove the distractions in our lives and focus on what really matters. We get to focus on what it means to be a child of God. Then and only then am I able to concentrate on not only uplifting the people to whom I minister, but on uplifting myself.

Even Jesus had to go up to the mountaintop to pray and rest. Even Jesus had to escape the crowds to refuel. Jesus taught us that taking time to regain strength and spirit is vital.

We must not forget to seek out a few quiet moments in our busy days. Find moments to be still, to be peaceful, to be joyful, and in doing so appreciate the true value of the God-given world around us.

Discussion questions

1. Where have you found moments of stillness in your day?

2. What is giving you life and joy this season?

3. How are you refueling and reviving yourself in the midst of the busyness? Or are you being wiped out?

Closing prayer

Gracious Lord, thank you for your greatness, love and continued compassion. Thank you for showing me that moments of stillness are needed to refuel, revive and be a better vessel for you. I ask you to continue to give me energy, blessings and appreciation of those moments of rest. Those moments of stillness and moments of joy are vital. Give me the strength and wisdom to continue listening to your voice — not that of the world — so that I can rest when needed. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Ralen Robinson is a seminarian at United Lutheran Seminary at Philadelphia seeking a call to be an ordained minister. She will be going off on her Internship year this fall at The Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion in Center City, Philadelphia. Ralen believes her faith and a good pair of shoes can take you a long way.