Receiving the Gift

2014-03-23 17.07.45By Stephanie Gretchen Burgevin. Stephanie is a writer and retreat leader. She is an associate faculty member of Shalem and a graduate of their Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats Program and leads spiritual and secular programs. Stephanie manages Shalem’s blog. You can see more of her writing at

In a meeting with my spiritual director the other day  we were talking about how “muddled” life feels at present. I’m not clear on what’s next. Probably, most adults have experienced this fog, times when what to do is convoluted. But this was not the angry or panicked kind of muddle I’ve experienced in decades past. This is not a Dark Night. This time there is an undercurrent of trust here.

We talked about what my prayer is now amidst all this. After some silence we laughed, realizing that my prayer for quite a while has been for more time and space in my life, and now I have it. For so long I was rushing from one project and task to another, trying desperately to get everything done and longingly looking at the holy pockets of time in the candy store window.

Perhaps I’m not in a muddle at all. Perhaps it’s just that I’m not used to having time to just be present, to relish what I’m doing and to give it my all. Put down the need to write a presentation, cook dinner, be on a conference call, and thoughtfully answer questions my child has on current events all at the same time.

So now the trick for me is to relax into this space, to set aside any guilt I might feel over not rushing off to another project. Spirit has given me this time, so how about just receiving it?

At first I thought my prayer for now was, “Please help me to get clarity on my next step,” or “Please help me to understand,” but now I’m seeing it just needs to be, “Thank you.”


April 04, 2014 by Shalem Institute 6 Comments
Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Maureen Yantz
Maureen Yantz
8 years ago

Stephanie, I always enjoy your posts. Hope you are doing well.

Ned Leonard
8 years ago

When I’ve missed similar opportunities I’ve said to myself, “I could have (would have) enjoyed the time if I’d known things were settled for the next job (or whatever).” My reality has been that were the next thing settled I’d be projecting toward it, not relaxing in the present/Presence. The only thing that ever is settled is the Presence/present I’m learning and that therefore I need not be afraid. Fear makes me mull the past and propels my mind into an (always) uncertain future. You’ve hit on something important.
8 years ago

Hello, This may indeed be the dark night, and outcome of such…per Jerry May. I just re read his book, and have more appreciation for times such as yours, and my own. Blessings to you. Keep writing. Thank you! Linda

Nancy Lemke
Nancy Lemke
8 years ago

Stephanie, So glad you have time and space in your life. Isn’t it amazing when that condition suddenly becomes a destination in itself rather than something to be hurried through.

8 years ago

Thanks for this message of our humanity. This global connection, in a heart of unrest, speaks from the cosmos. We are all one in our strain,pain,longing, and so on. I feel your connectedness to peace and the journey we are on (the us who seeks to know God) but a lot of souls aren’t on this active journey…… they can’t have any chance of connecting to us. This, your life, my life, everyone’s life………all feel lost at times….the great prophets, leaders, teachers all have eaten from this bitter fruit and through this pool of tears, then I can feel we are all one heart. Now feeling connected I can smile, laugh and spread my joy………”No one wants to feel alone,” quote from the universe..

8 years ago

This is such a succinct “answer” for my questioning times/prayers in this season of my life! Thank you for sharing; I am so relieved. You know, it’s odd to me that I questioned how Jesus’ words, “My yoke is easy, My burden is light,” could ever apply to me. Life was so chaotic for so long, raising six children, virtually alone. Now, I must accept (gratefully–what a relief!) that they are true for me. He longs to give us rest, but we must receive it with an open hand of gratitude and cooperation. Your words really resonate in me once again. Thank you for writing!


Our mission is to nurture contemplative living and leadership.


Grounded in our understanding of God’s desire for peace, wholeness and well-being, we envision a world transformed by contemplative living and leadership in which all people honor one another and creation, recognize their unity and interconnectedness, and courageously seek to live out of this reality.