The staff at The Well is committing to find “five minutes of peace” daily in Advent. (Join us! Find the details here.) For the next few weeks, we’re sharing reflections on our own experiences of this practice. We hope that hearing what this is like encourages you during your own Advent and gives you a peek behind the curtain at the people who make Women in the Academy and Professions happen.
The other day, I was driving to a meeting when I had an argument with myself. It had already been a long day, full of doctor’s appointments, deadlines, and refereeing my children’s disagreements. I was headed to a meeting on a challenging topic and I was exhausted. According to my calculations, I had actually left early enough (for once in my life) to arrive five minutes early. But in that moment, I knew I had to pull the car over.
Those five minutes felt incredibly precious. Although it would have been lovely to arrive early for my meeting and get settled, I knew those minutes would evaporate into chit chat and a quick check of my email before you could say “five minutes.” In that moment and at that point in my day, I just needed to be still for a minute.
So I pulled the car over. I huddled in my coat and hat, listening to the daily prayer on my Pray As You Go app. I knew I didn’t even have time to listen to the full prayer. I just had five minutes, but that was enough.
I’ve been thinking about busyness lately. I recently read through the Christmas story in Luke, and you know what? There is a lot of rushing and a lot of busyness. There is a lot going on, and it is good! But there are two moments of quiet that stand out to me. One is when Mary receives a visit from the angel Gabriel. The other is when the shepherds visit and she “treasures up all these things and ponders them in her heart.”
It seems important to note that, even in the midst of the most exciting event in history, Mary had to sit still for five minutes — a couple of times. She had to be quiet enough to have a conversation with Gabriel. She had to be peaceful enough to listen to the story the shepherds came to tell.
This Advent will be very, very busy for me. To tell the truth, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Much of the busyness I’ll experience is brought on by myself and my adherence to certain family traditions (<cough>COOKIES!<cough>). But I also know that, in order to do this well, I’ll need to be still for five minutes every day. I’ll need to just be quiet for five minutes so I can listen for the voice of God with us.
My five minutes of pausing and listening for God might happen in the car. It might happen at the kitchen table. It might happen on the sofa, on a walk, or in a coffee shop. I don’t think it matters much where it happens, but I do think I’ll need to be paying attention and receiving those five minutes when they arrive — and it will be enough.