Ken Gire, in his book The Reflective Life, described the plentiful options we have before us to fill our plates, our days (I’m adding a few and updating to reflect opportunities present in 2007):
- Vehicles to transport us wherever we want, even off-road, with audio technology and reading material–iPods, books on CD, podcasts–to keep the ride from getting dull.
- Bountiful hobbies to make life more interesting.
- Newscasts, magazines, online news, and blogs, of course, to make our lives more informed.
- Television, TiVo, DVDs, movies, and theater (until this pesky writers’ strike) to entertain us.
- Tools and gadgets and computers to make us more efficient.
- Vacations to feel more relaxed.
- Educational opportunities to make our minds sharper and lives deeper.
- Social events, small-group meetings, and church services to make our social and spiritual lives richer.
- Volunteer opportunities to give our lives more meaning and purpose.
- Sports to make lives healthier and more fun.
“So with all those things filling our lives,” Gire wonders, “why aren’t we more fulfilled?”
He proposes that life for Westerners has become more like an all-you-can-eat buffet, which looks good as you go through the serving line, but by the time you finish eating, everything has lost its taste. “Instead of feeling satisfied,” he suggests, “we feel bloated.”
Sometimes less is more, as the saying goes, and sometimes a few well-prepared servings are more satisfying, ones where we have time to chew, where we can taste even the subtlest of spices, where the flavor lingers long after we’ve finished.We can’t savor anything, though, if we’re stuffed. And if we’re heaping serving after serving onto our schedule, by the end of the day we’re never going to want to eat again.(p. 99, The Reflective Life, by Ken Gire, Chariot Victor Publishing, a division of Cook Communications, Colorado Springs, CO, 1998).
What is his recommendation for giving meaning to these all-you-can-eat days? When life pressures us to cram as much as possible into a day, is there a way to savor any part of it, or are we stuck bloated and strangely, paradoxically, empty?
Well, as he said, sometimes less is more and we can consider cutting down our activities in order to focus on doing a few things well. To use his words, “sometimes a few well-prepared servings are more satisfying, ones where we have time to chew.” In other words, sometimes we’re simply doing too much. We need to cut back.
But he also suggests something simple and practical: pauses.
“Putting pauses into our schedule allows us to savor the individual servings in our day,” Gire advised. (p. 99, ibid.)
Time to reflect and contemplate the purpose and meaning in an interaction or event.
He recommends keeping a journal, to look back on the day and consider its highs and lows, and reflecting at length on the Scriptures.
As I read Gire’s observations and considered his ideas, I thought about the discussion we’ve been having about meaningful blogs.
In the comments, Ann of Holy Experience, wrote:
I read (somewhere? ~smile~) that when most reader check a blog post, they have a time allotment of an average of nine seconds before they click away. That is about 250 words or so.I think on this often. But I wonder if it is possible to write such that in those first nine seconds, they can find themselves drawn to a place where they want to slow, pause, take a deep breath, and want to read more. To consider. Reflect. Worship.And when they finally click away, they are in a different head and heart space…I often wonder too… if we write in sound bites, are we are contributing, cultivating a culture who thinks in flashes and snippets and clips…. instead of creating islands of soulful, contemplative thought…?
I’ve been thinking about Ann’s comment in conjunction with Gire’s analysis of the busy -v- reflective life, and the word “oasis” keeps coming to mind.
We need oases to replenish ourselves, to survive and flourish while on this 21st Century, fast-paced journey.
We must find islands of soulful thought, as Ann said, where we stop, think, ponder, rest, and reflect before revving up the engine and merging back onto the freeway.
She added worship to the list. A call to worship is asking a lot of a blog, but some writers pull it off. They point us to the Savior and remind us that this life is not about us. It’s not about our crazy-busy schedules, room-mom responsibilities, or carpool chaos. It’s not about the mindless TV shows that make us laugh. Life is more than Thanksgiving preparations and Christmas shopping.
In the pauses, we can remember to Whom we belong. We can reflect on His grace and look for the ways He is working in our world.
We can ask for help and give thanks.
We can realize what we’ve known all along but forgotten in the flurry–that this life, hectic and harried, or reflective and restful, is about Him.
An oasis is a fertile area in the middle of a desert, an island of life in a land of extremes. Any oasis serves as a refuge, relief, or pleasant change from what is usual, annoying, difficult.
An oasis: that’s what I would like to be as a person; even, if possible, as a blogger.
An oasis: that’s what I’d like to find for myself, as well–a regular refuge to refresh and replenish myself; a safe place to pause.
I think of Jesus’ invitation to come away and find rest. He had sent off the disciples, and they came back from the journey, gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
They needed to pull away….with Him.
We do, too.
He is our oasis.