As we approach the holiday season and the days seem to be running away from us as our lists of things to do keep getting longer and longer, we need to take a moment to step back and allow ourselves to just be. This passage written by Sr. Janice McLaughlin entitled “The Value of Contemplation” invites us to explore the possibility of stepping outside of the chaos we create in order to partake in a peaceful stretch of time within nature.

Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary in the Philippines“In the midst of our hectic modern life, many yearn for the serenity of the Dalai Lama or Thomas Merton. We long to take time out from the daily list of things to be done to replenish ourselves and to silence the inner chatter that makes us anxious and frazzled. Can we learn from the rhythm of nature to stop and be still when we are feeling overwhelmed? Can we eat outside under the trees rather than in a crowded, noisy cafeteria? Can we go for a walk or sit alone, resting our eyes and our brains? Can we listen to the birds and watch the squirrels at play rather than reading a book or a newspaper? Can we take time out, morning and evening, to say thanks to the Creator for the gifts of each day? Can we just take time, instead of rushing and running through our lives?…

Jesus also led an active life, healing, preaching, and teaching about God’s kingdom. Yet he also took time to rest and to pray. He understood the natural rhythm of life and used images from nature to explain his mission — the world of flowers, birds, wheat, seeds, sheep, pearls, fish sunshine, and rain. The wind and the sea obeyed him. Children played at his feet. He relaxed with friends over a meal and visited with rich and poor alike. Artists of all nations and all times depict him in various poses, clothing, and cultural settings but almost all capture an inner fire and outer serenity that still attract followers around the world. May we too experience the fruit of contemplation in action.”

– Janice McLaughlin, M.M., fromĀ Ostriches, Dung Beetles, and Other Spiritual Masters: A Book of Wisdom from the Wild