Daily Practice: A Weekly Reminder 10/22/2023

Once a week on Sundays, we enter together into a time of reflection and centering, as we prepare to share and hold sorrows and joys among us. I often note, as we begin that practice, that centering involves discerning what is most important and what is not most important. Perhaps that distinction is obvious, but more likely it is not. Worship, for us, in general, is an ongoing practice of this aim – to discern and lift up what is most important.

It is easy to believe that what we think is important in any given moment is actually important, because we think it is! We know that is not always true. How often do we carried away with an idea – such as “I have to clean the house before I can invite friends over,” or “I have to get this project done, and then I’ll rest,” or “I have to send these few emails and texts before I give my full attention to my child,” or many other similar ideas which we assume are the most important things – but really aren’t?

The tendency to give most attention to things that are not really important is common among us, and well-practiced. It is accentuated in turbulent times such as these, when it feels easier and safer to focus on making dinner plans, or criticizing a spouse for small things, or complaining about friends or relatives, than to pause and acknowledge war and more local forms of destruction. Of course there are the small things of daily life and personal preference to deal with, and they do have consequences! The challenge is in assuming that they are the most important things.

This is part of the human condition, to be sure. We are not the first nor the last humans to avert our eyes and ears and hearts from much of what is truly important. We are not the first to be afraid, or worried, or eager to let ourselves be distracted. As in every generation, the work is ours to do – to learn to distinguish the most important things, and then to respond as well as we can. We begin again every day – the daily practice.