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The Quest for Quiet Time
By Susan Hines-Brigger

Q U I C K S C A N

Ample Opportunities
Time to Slow Down and Reflect
For Teens: Plan Your Own Retreat
For Kids: Shhh...


“I’m running away.”

Those were the words I said to my husband and kids not too long ago after a particularly hectic and stressful week. Of course they didn’t believe me, except for my five-year-old son, Alex, who wasn’t quite sure if I was kidding or not. No, between work, school, extracurricular activities and a whole host of other responsibilities, I knew I wasn’t going anywhere.

But wouldn’t it be nice? I thought. Wouldn’t it be nice, as Scripture says, to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:11)? Wouldn’t it be nice to have more quiet time or go on a retreat?

Actually, we should all be taking some time to “be still.” Scripture says so, theologians and popes say so, doctors say so, therapists say so. Most importantly, Jesus says so. Remember those 40 days and nights he spent in the desert?

So if everyone is saying we should, why don’t we? In fact, according to recent polls on Mass attendance, we’re not even seeking that one weekly hour of quiet and reflection that we can get at Mass.

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Ample Opportunities

I’m a mother of three, so quiet time in my life is definitely in short supply. But when I do find a spare moment, our faith provides plenty of avenues for reflection, such as prayer and meditation. And there is certainly no shortage of prayer and meditation styles to pick from, such as Ignatius Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises or centering prayer. There are quite a few self-directed retreats available through books or on the Internet. In fact, St. Anthony Messenger Press offers an entire line of Retreat With... books featuring any number of saints or key Catholic figures.

So even if I don’t have time to pack my bags and head off to the nearest retreat house or monastery, there really is no excuse for me not to take the quiet time that I need to enhance both my faith and my life. The same thing is true for all Catholics.

Time to Slow Down and Reflect

Make your own retreat. You don’t need to cart yourself off to a monastery to go on a retreat. Just schedule some quiet time to be by yourself. Get up an hour earlier than everyone else or stay up an hour longer at night. Find someplace quiet where you can be by yourself and reflect. Read the Bible or other inspirational book, pray or just sit and take in your surroundings. Go for a walk and recite the Rosary or other prayers along the way.

Make quiet time a priority. Not too long ago, following one too many midday meltdowns, I established “quiet time” in our house. During that time the kids could either read, play quietly or sleep (yeah, right) for a designated period of time. I was surprised at what a positive reaction I got from the kids. In fact, my daughter Maddie asked if we were going to keep doing it because it gave her a chance to catch up on her reading.

Encourage a little R&R. When Maddie said that to me, I thought it was a little odd that she didn’t feel that she could just sit down and rest at any time. But then after looking at our family schedule, I realized why. So in the future, my husband, Mark, and I will be encouraging the kids and ourselves—through both words and actions—to take the time to rest.

Take a family retreat at home. Pick a theme, such as favorite Bible stories or characters, the Ten Commandments or the Beatitudes and structure your retreat around that theme. You can also decide a time frame for your family retreat. Perhaps it’s a few hours on the weekend, or a half hour each night after dinner. Figure out what time frame works best for your family schedule.

Come up with activities that relate to the theme. For instance, have the kids act out the stories or make something that relates to the story. For the Ten Commandments, you could work together to come up with your family’s own Ten Commandments. Or you could develop concrete ways your family can live out the Beatitudes. Just make sure to build in some alone time for everyone to reflect on the activities.

 

For Teens: Plan Your Own Retreat

When I was a teenager, my opportunities and ability for going on retreat seemed endless. But now that I’m an adult, not so much. So take advantage of this time and opportunity by getting together with some friends and developing a retreat based on your needs and interests. (You may need to present your ideas to your youth minister or a teacher at school for help in planning the retreat, but the ideas can be yours.)

For instance, plan a retreat on how to build strong friendships, ways to cope with stress, why you should take care of yourself or how to be a team player. Find examples of these themes in the Bible or Church teachings. Check to see if there are any local speakers who could address the topic. By customizing the retreat to the issues you’re facing, you just might find it more helpful.

For Kids: Shhhh...

Sometimes it seems that we are always surrounded by noise. My kids sometimes refer to it as “noise pollution.” A lot of times, however, we are guilty of providing a lot of the noise.

As our little way of trying to counter that, my family plays a game that we call the “Quiet Game.” Everyone tries to stay completely quiet for as long as possible. The person who can do it the longest is the winner. My family often plays this game during car rides because too much noise can distract the driver. Or sometimes we’ll try to have a completely silent dinner just for the fun of it. See if your family’s willing to give it a try. You’ll be surprised how hard it can be!

 

Do you have ideas or suggestions for topics you'd like to see addressed in this column? If so, send them to me at “Faith-filled Family,” 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202-6498, or e-mail them to Family@franciscanmedia.org.


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