The Big Rocks

2012-01-20 12.24.29

By Stephanie Gretchen Burgevin. Stephanie is a writer and retreat leader. She is an associate faculty member of Shalem and a graduate of theirLeading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats Program and leads spiritual and secular programs. Stephanie manages Shalem’s blog and is one of the social media coordinators for the Shalem Institute Facebook page.

Time. It seems to be the bane of a deepening spiritual life.

I have spoken with people who have been in various spiritual classes, retreats, pilgrimages I’ve participated in and so many say something like, “I know I feel better when I do it, but I just don’t have time to meditate or pray every day.”

Time is also my story. You know how we tell ourselves or others we can’t so something because of x,y, or z (fill in the specifics with whatever your story is). Well my story is, “I don’t have time.”

It is true to a certain extent. It’s probably safe to say that most of us are busy and don’t have time— work, volunteering, family, kids, spouse, friends, classes…

It’s all good stuff, which makes it harder to cut something out.

So how do I find time to pray? How do I leave more space for God?

Not only are these questions I have asked myself, but when I have led retreats, classes, or PSDP (Shalem’s Personal Spiritual Deepening Program) it invariably comes up. How do I fit this spiritual practice in around all the other things I do?

People, including me, know they are better for sticking to a spiritual practice. I know that this is my anchor and if I don’t do it for a few days, I am not as kind and loving to my family (and world) as I would like to be. I just feel out of sorts. So, it’s for my loved ones’ benefit and mine that I start my day reigniting that connection to the divine. If I leave it for later in the day, it keeps getting bumped, and I’m not as grounded and as steady as I would be had I started the day off with some stillness.

I am reminded of the story of the rocks and a jar. I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried it, but if you have a large jar, sand, pebbles, stones, and a few big rocks you will find that if you put the small stuff in first, you don’t have room for the big things.

But, if you put the big things first, you have plenty of room for the smaller ones.

Ah, yes. If I put what is most important first, I’m able to fit all the other things in around my priorities.

So, I start my day with meditating, I get God in first.

What do you do? Have you wrestled with sticking to a spiritual practice? What works for you?

March 03, 2013 by Shalem Institute 4 Comments
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Dana Greene
Dana Greene
11 years ago

Long ago when I began meditating I can remember Tilden Edwards saying that the practice of meditation was like the practice of brushing your teeth. You don’t get up in the morning and decide between brushing your teeth or not brushing your teeth. You do it, even if you are rushed or preoccupied. Although this is not a perfect comparison, one gets the point. You have already decided to carry out a practice and now you just do it.

11 years ago
Reply to  Dana Greene

Dana–Great example. Yes, I agree that the struggle is in making it a habit. Once you are there, you are all set!

Leah Rampy
Leah Rampy
11 years ago
Reply to  Dana Greene

Love that thought, Dana!

Chris Jeffrey
Chris Jeffrey
11 years ago

Stephanie, Thank you for the reminder about the jar. And the image that Dana shared reminds us that we want it to be part of our daily routine,


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