Today’s reflection is shared by Jen Murphy, the Center’s Retreats & Events Manager. Let’s read her thoughts sparked by an upcoming retreat theme…

Peace In the Middle of the Piecesstress, prayer

One of my favorite retreats to plan is our annual Women’s Wellness retreat. Unlike other retreats on our schedule, this one is very hands-on for me and our committee of other staff members. A featured presenter offers various themes that we pick from and they are responsible for the presentation on the Saturday and Sunday mornings of the weekend retreat. We’re very excited to have a favorite presenter return for this September’s retreat, Dr. Veirdre Jackson. She will offer her talks around the theme of “Peace in the Middle of the Pieces”. (I won’t get into those details here because you can read more about by clicking here.) The other portions of the retreat schedule are up to the committee to plan and execute. Our committee met last Monday to start brainstorming about the rest of the schedule, decorations, menu, etc… These meetings are always fun as we bounce around creative ideas.

Aside from this fun meeting though, the rest of my week was shadowed by the stress of too much to do in too little time. It’s June, after all. The first few weeks of this month are always packed with my children’s end-of-school year activities, spring and summer sports seasons colliding and the beginning of a busy summer retreat schedule. This time of year seems to create an uptick in my stress level, but this year seems to be weighing on me a bit more than usual. I hadn’t stopped to think about it until I was chatting with a friend during my daughter’s swim practice later in the week. At that moment, sharing about our mutual heightened stress, we realized that it’s the post-pandemic adjustment that is making it more poignant. The pace of life was slower just a few months ago and now we’re back to full throttle. We just weren’t prepared for this crazy juggling act again! But, we both reminded each other that, in the end, everything will work out. We ended our conversation reflecting on how truly grateful we are that our kids are busy again. Remembering the pandemic lockdown can give us all a great sense of gratitude for daily activities now, right?

As I quickly compiled minutes from our Women’s Wellness meeting the next day, the theme jumped off the screen at me: “Peace in the Middle of the Pieces”. As I typed, I broke that phrase down over the stress of my week. Gratefully, my ‘pieces’ are simply activities, busy schedules, typical family and work stress right now instead of much bigger issues that others are working through in their lives. When viewing my ‘pieces’ this way, prayers of gratitude for those activities, my loved ones and a job that I love came to the forefront. The peace that can only come from prayer began to release the tension and reminded me to simply slow down and breathe.

If you’re finding the adjustment back to a somewhat ‘normal’ pace of activity a little stressful, maybe taking a quiet moment to say the prayer below together can help. May you be washed with the peace of Jesus today and always, no matter what your pieces may be.

Slow Me Down 

Slow me down, Lord!
Ease the pounding of my heart
By the quieting of my mind.
Steady my harried pace
With a vision of the eternal reach of time.

Give me,
Amidst the confusions of my day,
The calmness of the everlasting hills.
Break the tensions of my nerves
With the soothing music
Of the singing streams
That live in my memory.

Help me to know
The magical power of sleep,
Teach me the art
Of taking minute vacations
Of slowing down
To look at a flower;
To chat with an old friend
Or make a new one;
To pet a dog;
To watch a spider build a web;
To smile at a child;
Or to read a few lines from a good book.

Remind me each day
That the race is not always won by the swift;
That there is more to life
Than increasing its speed.

Let me look upward
Into the branches of the towering oak
And know that it grew great and strong
Because it grew slowly and well.

Slow me down, Lord,
And inspire me to send my roots deep
Into the soil of life’s enduring values
That I may grow toward the stars
Of our greater destiny.

~ Orin L. Crain