Monthly Meditation: Being the Light in a Busy World
How have you been? How are you doing? If you answered “Busy” or even “CRAZY BUSY” do not worry. You are not alone. Such responses have become common as busyness has become a part of our lives. I can remember in my childhood being driven by my parents to all the various activities throughout the week: Boy Scouts on Mondays, soccer practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Youth Group on Wednesdays and so on. It was busy for me and looking back, I now recognize how busy it was for them. This busyness only increased as I entered into adulthood, more so as I began my ministry in the church and this last year has been no exception.
For many, this last year may have been an opportunity to slow down for a little while during the lockdowns and stay-at-home orders. For others, however, it has resulted in an even more demanding schedule with the widespread utilization of online video conferencing using the now all too familiar Zoom platform. In this new virtual era we find ourselves in, where we can attend numerous meetings and events literally across the globe in one day and all without even leaving our home. Therefore, there is very little excuse not to attend every event we are invited to. This can be overwhelming at times.
Saint Isaac the Syrian wrote in his fourth homily, “Withdraw yourself from multitudinous affairs and have your soul as your only concern, so that you may save her innermost tranquility from dispersion.” The quote above was the recent topic of discussion for our parish’s Young Adult ministry which raised the question, “How might we respond to this call to action given the many demands the world places upon us daily?” One young adult replied to the question, “Does someone have an answer for this? I'm in my sixth out of nine Zoom meetings for the day and it’s very difficult to find time.”
This anecdote highlights a sentiment shared by many. While we can certainly be more conscious about our schedules and make a greater effort to allocate more time to the conditioning of our souls and less to our screens, the reality is that we are not all called to withdraw from the world and become hermits. If we were all to do as Saint Isaac did, the light would no longer be in the world. Rather it would be hidden away among the caves in the wilderness.
Answering this call to action does not necessarily require us to retreat to the mountains. Instead, it might simply be a process of prayerfully reflecting on our daily activities and looking at them as opportunities to be the light in the world so that we may share that light with those around us. Though the busyness of our lives may be a great challenge, it is important to remember that it, in this case, is less about what we do and more about how we do it. If we can shift our focus towards Christ in every moment throughout the day, we will free ourselves from the bondage of the world and the frequent stress it brings, without retreating or running away.