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broadening and deepening prayer
United Reformed Church Spirituality articles:

New to retirement

Sue Henderson
4 September 2019
Sue Henderson

Having retired almost six months ago, I am just beginning to relax into my different lifestyle. I wasn’t expecting it to be a time of ease and leisure – I had been warned by so many not to expect that, but I have been amazed at how long it has taken to “unwind”. I can sit down and enjoy my tea or coffee and enjoy the birdsong. Although we don’t live in the country, we are sufficiently on the edge of the town as to be able to reap the benefits of urban and country living. I am taking time to go and look at the newest rose to have unfurled its petals and opened them to the sun.

Even if I tell myself otherwise, I have time to think, time to reflect, time to be still, time that is not full of doing but of being. I’m coming round to believe that such a time is just as important as work. Then I feel that I can deal much better with the work that does come my way.

“Whenever I know I am going to have a very busy day,” said an old monk, “I spend twice as long at my prayers.” For many of us the temptation is to concentrate solely on the jobs we feel we absolutely must do. Jesus took time out by seeking a quiet place in the early hours of the morning.

One great spiritual teacher used to tell his students to do something utterly useless for an hour every day — just to remind themselves whose world it is. Perhaps we would do well to heed that advice too. We spend so much time as human doings, perhaps we should remember that first and foremost we are human beings.

We live in a world that is so full of frenetic activity. We want to eat quickly, move quickly and it seems that we are always trying to catch up with ourselves. There is a great need in our world for stillness. So, take a walk around your garden, or the local park. Listen to the birds. Look at the trees with so many amazing shades of green, branches reaching to the sky. Stop, look and listen. Sit down for a few minutes and simply be — be still.
Many people can say that they have never heard God speaking to them, but then how much time have they ever given to listening? I wonder how much time you give to listen to God? I know that the days go better when I do, but so often the day begins and I go scooting after it trying to catch up and never quite managing it!

Somehow I have got caught up in our “instant” society, where everything has to happen now; but deep within me there is a still place and when I stop for just a few minutes (or longer, if I can) and tap into that stillness, I know too that I am tapping into God. I become at peace with myself and at peace with the world around me. I receive a new strength and energy to face the day. I can touch this still place as I look at the created world. I can touch it as I sit quietly in the garden and I can touch it on those clear nights when I can gaze up at a myriad of stars and be amazed.

These periods of stillness don’t have to be long, just minutes will do. It’s not time wasted, but well-used; for I guarantee that you’ll feel more at peace and able to cope with the world.