(This week is the 43rdinstallment of the book, “The Band Director’s Lessons About Life”, which TCRN is publishing as a series during 2020. This week, band director and spiritual author Donald Lee relates a parable about finding time and space to connect with the divine. For a complete listing of previous episodes in this series, click here.).
We need silence to be alone with God, to speak to him, to listen to him, to ponder his words deep in our hearts. We need to be alone with God in silence to be renewed and transformed. Silence gives us a new outlook on life. In it we are filled with the energy of God himself that makes us do all things with joy.
MOTHER TERESA(Roman Catholic nun and saint, known for her work with the poor in Calcutta, India)
“Harley’s always going into my locker. He knows the combination,” Anthony complained.
Harley was in my grade-seven math class. He was quick to make himself stand out amongst the new batch of students that fall. At first he seemed pleasant enough in his precocious sort of way. But if there was trouble about, Harley wasn’t far away. So I wasn’t surprised by Anthony’s hallway comment. I was trying to make the one-minute sprint from the math end of the school to the music end, where my next class would, once again, be assembled before I got there. But I couldn’t let this opportunity pass, so I stopped.
“You can go to the office and ask to exchange your lock so you will have a different combination,” I explained.
“I don’t mind if he gets into my locker,” Anthony said with a shrug and a changed tone. “He’s my friend.” A second ago he was whining and aggrieved. Now he was defending Harley’s misbehavior? To which fickle, twelve-year-old sentiment should I respond? Now I was certainly going to be late. But the moral point made me press on.
“That may be, but part of the reason for students having their own locker is so that everyone can have at least a little personal and private space at school.”
“It’s okay. I don’t mind.” Anthony wasn’t getting the point. Perhaps I was being too obtuse.
“Maybe you don’t mind right now, but sooner or later you will mind. We also want everyone to respect each other’s little bit of personal and private space. It’s important that Harley learn to respect your private space: your locker. So even if you don’t care, please go to the office and exchange your lock. This will prevent Harley from getting into your locker and help him learn a very important lesson in life.”
In the chaos of humanity that is a school hallway during class break, the tumult of movement carried me and the students away in different directions. I’m sure that brief encounter prompted far less reflection in Anthony’s mind than it did in mine.
How often we crave just a little personal and private space. A space in our home, in our day, in our life. When I was growing up, people had bigger families and smaller homes than we do today. Usually, siblings shared bedrooms. Nowadays, that’s not so common. I didn’t really mind sharing a bedroom with my brother. But it was a momentous day—a day of independence, almost a “coming of age”—when I got my own room. It was a place I could be alone. I had a dresser all to myself, not just one side of it. I could put my posters on the walls and my books on the shelf. It was a refuge that allowed me some physical, emotional, and spiritual space.
Nowadays, it seems we have more space in our homes but less space in our lives—lots of “aloneness” but not much private space. If a kid (or an adult for that matter) goes into their bedroom for a little private time, what do they do? They pull out their smartphone. Instantly, they are in a public space. They are exposed to all the world but utterly alone and defenseless against it. It’s not personal and private, but it’s not really “social” either. It is devoid of the normal personal contact with other people—human love is diminished, human cruelty magnified.
As we “reflect and redirect” in our lives, we need time and space to do it. Often our lives are nonstop multitasking from alarm time to bedtime. Our bodies and minds are moving every minute: working, driving, shopping, texting, TV-ing, gaming, Facebooking. There is no time or space for our spirits.
Our children need some time and space that’s not “screen time.” Our spouses need time and space free from our demands. Each of us needs to respect that in ourselves and in others. We cannot multitask our connection to the Divine within. Our direction comes from God, and we must quiet our bodies and minds to receive that direction. We must be still if we want to hear that “still, small voice within,” (1 K 19:12). Whether we use that private time for meditation, prayer, reflection, reading, or just quietly “being”—we need it.
Partly, it’s respecting the needs of ourselves and others. Partly, it’s staying committed to our spiritual journey. Reflection and redirection is a key part of that journey. Are we still on the right path? In what ways did we slip off the path today? How can we stay true to “performing” in tune with our highest and best self tomorrow? How can we better live each moment from that inner place where we know our “self” as spirit and feel our oneness with the Divine?
We need some time to reflect on these questions daily. Connecting to the Divine within will fill the void in our hearts. Only God can fill it. As St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in God.”
For ourselves and others, we need to cherish some personal and private space each day: physical space, emotional space, intellectual space, and spiritual space. This is where we can connect to the Divine within.
Donald Lee is a spiritual author and speaker. This article is part of a weekly series for 2020 in which TCRN is publishing his inspirational book, The Band Director’s Lessons About Life: Volume 1 – 50 Parables on Life’s Performance Cycle, in serial form – one parable per week. You can learn more about the author at his website: www.ComingHomeSpirit.com, or order a copy of his complete book on Amazon, or get his free mini eBook and sign up for his weekly blog. Follow Donald on Facebook.