Losing Time

He restores my soul.     Psalm 23:3

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Marie Joseph Spiritual Center in Biddeford, ME

For my fiftieth birthday this year I wanted to go away on a weekend retreat. After searching all summer long for the right location, I ended up at the Marie Joseph Spiritual Center in Maine this past weekend. I went alone for a guided retreat: three full days of nothing, except meeting with a spiritual director for one hour on each of those day.

So, me being me, I packed a gazillion spiritual books, in addition to my standard journal and Bible. I also created list after list of all the issues I needed to work through, pray over, and discern answers to while I was there. I envisioned conquering the spiritual world with all that time on my hands, and coming home with my life all figured out.

Sister Aline, the spiritual director I met with each day, had a different plan for me. Where my agenda was to conquer, her guidance for me was to surrender. I wanted to do; she wanted me to be. I wanted to figure out; she wanted me to receive.

In her wise and gentle way, she challenged me to let go of my need to capitalize on all my free time, and work on “losing time” instead. She said the nuns in her order actually use the expression, “practice losing time.” She said that’s actually when we are most filled.

She made me promise I’d spend a minimum of thirty minutes doing nothing but being with God. She said I had to be empty handed, no pen and journal to capture my thoughts, no spiritual reading to guide me. Her point was, if I went to God with my hands full, there’d be no room to receive.

Of course I had to say yes, and then follow through. I couldn’t lie to a nun. But I was bound and determined to get right to work on my agenda when those thirty minutes were up.

Well, that Sister Aline is a savvy little woman. I had no idea that losing time was so addicting! Those thirty minutes quickly turned into all afternoon.

Rather than digging into the pile of books I had brought, I dug my toes into the sand and took a long walk on the beach. Rather than capturing all my thoughts in my journal, I strolled the grounds capturing all of God’s beauty in photographs. Rather than focusing on my endless lists of issues and dilemmas, I let my mind drift so much, I drifted off to sleep in the sun, sitting upright on a bench!

The irony was, while I was losing all that time, I was finding God everywhere I turned. Just like Sister Aline promised, He kept filling me up. In fact, He filled me so full, tears of gratitude kept spilling out, to the point of embarrassment.

The most incredible part of it all was that when I finally turned my attention to those lists of issues and dilemmas later that night, everything became crystal clear. What I had envisioned taking hours and hours of prayer, struggling over the problems I had brought with me, took mere minutes to resolve. Either the answers were immediately obvious, or the problems didn’t seem like problems anymore. I was even able to come up with concrete plans to carry out all the changes I needed to make, and was excited about doing the work when I got home.

The ribbon Sister Aline tied this new gift of “losing time” up with was the challenge to take it home with me. I will now be spending at least thirty minutes a week at Adoration . I’ll be leaving my pen and journal behind so I can lose time with God, with hands and heart wide open.

Questions For Reflection:

     * Have I ever “lost time” with God?

     * If so, what where the results?

     * If not, can I consider trying to lose time with God, even for thirty minutes?

      * What concrete plans can I put in place to do so?
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7 thoughts on “Losing Time

  1. What an amazing retreat! Thanks for sharing your experience, Claire.
    I too attend weekly Adoration. My soul is refreshed and renewed by the peace, serenity, and quietness of alone-time with Jesus.
    It calms my stressful, hard-working-professional, single mom life! That would be too heavy a burden without the strength of our Lord to help me carry it. Adoration has helped me find joy and peace to replace some of the worry, stress, and anxieties of providing a good life for my children.

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    • So great to hear this Deborah. When I’m tempted to skip Adoration as things get busier and busier, I’m going to revisit your comment to remind me that that is precisely when I need to go to Adoration the most. Thank you for sharing your experience!

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    • I didn’t tell the story of how I found the place: I actually got fed up with searching. So I turned to God and told Him that if He wanted me to go on retreat, He had to guide me to the right place. Then I went to the grocery store – the same grocery store I have been shopping at every week for ten years. Lo and behold, I kept passing two nuns in full habit on every aisle. I finally stopped them and asked them where I should go on retreat. They told me about MJSC. It is their retreat center! That was the first time in ten years I have ever seen nuns in that grocery store, and I haven’t seen a single nun there since. Pretty amazing huh?!

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