Sometimes I get hungry while I’m at the cafe. Thankfully, one of my coworkers there makes some excellent homemade granola. So in the middle of a long closing shift, a cup of this granola with a little soy-milk hits the spot. But a couple weeks ago, as I was munching away on my granola we suddenly got slammed with a line of customers. Some wanted smoothies – which take a while to make – others wanted coffee or espresso drinks. I was hungry, but customers took priority. When I finally got back to my granola, it was soggy. It occurred to me later that my soggy granola was a suitable analogy for the spiritual life of those in ministry.
When we got busy, I had to put my need for nourishment on hold to serve others. How often do people engaged in ministry feel like they’re forced to do the same thing, resulting in a soggy prayer/spiritual/devotional life? The past few weeks have been very busy for everyone involved in The Upper Room, and it’s been tempting to set aside spiritual disciplines like prayer and scripture reading because “there’s just not enough time.” We even had this problem Sunday before our worship service: going straight from a long planning meeting for Converge to Phipps to set up for worship, we felt so rushed that we forgot to pray before the service began. Not good.
So this prompts the question: How do we maintain healthy spiritual nutrition during our busiest times? The obvious answer is to slow down and build times of sabbath, daily office, rest and reflection into our schedules. But sometimes the demands of ministry won’t fit into our schedules. And still the nourishment necessary, lest we look to other things to satisfy the hungers that arise when we’re stressed. (The granola at the cafe also keeps me from being tempted to eat less healthy things such as the cookies or muffins we serve.) Attempting (emphasis on the attempt) to pray silently during busy times, taking advantage of short moments of rest, and pausing to read short passages of scripture in the midst of busy-ness have helped for me. (Having internet access on my phone is great: wherever I am I can open up the daily lectionary and read for a moment, whether I’m walking or at the cafe or on the bus). But I’m curious how other people handle this challenge. Thoughts anyone?