The Quote on Our Fridge
Updated: Nov 2, 2021
For the past year this quote has been taped on our fridge:
“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves?" - Thomas Merton
These words are a necessary reminder lately when projects at work and at home have consumed a larger-than-normal portion of my energy and thought-life. I've been feeling that internal buzz that comes from stress hormones kicking in to help get things done. My after-work walk had once been a time to reflect, pray, and spend time with God. But recently I'd noticed they'd become increasingly characterized by my mind reeling through the problems of the day, cataloging emails to send, and adding to my to-do list. Even with some resolve, I was having trouble quieting and connecting with myself. Something valuable had been lost at the expense of my productivity.
I feel the projects themselves - stepping into a new role at work, house projects, preparing for a baby, to name a few - are good and worthwhile endeavors. But it felt like I'd gained so much momentum towards making progress in these areas that I'd lost touch with myself and what God is doing within me in the process.
Thomas Merton's words help broaden my lens. The way I live out my hours, days, weeks, and years, are ultimately the way I live out my life. There will always be a moon towards which to sail (or a problem/task/email to deal with), but what value is that if it leaves me with a monkey mind that can't hone in on how I'm feeling or sense God's movements within me?
This realization is one I've arrived at often in the ebbs and flows of my faith journey. It is a familiar call to guard the spaces in my day for rest, silence, and solitude - the disciplines that help me reconnect with God and myself. Re-engaging in these rhythms of slowing down and connecting often feel painful and take time, like flexing muscles that haven't been used in a while. My hope is that over time, with God's grace, I'm quicker to sense these patterns and make the journey back.