by Kurt Maerschel
Recently I drove home from a class which I am taking at SMU Perkins School of Theology. The class is titled “Prayer and Spirituality.” It is a 3 hour class which meets Monday evenings from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm.
Part of class time is “to do nothing.” That does sound funny but is much harder than one would think. We sit around in silence trying not to think about anything, but to simply be. I have practiced this for a while now and from time to time I did have what I would call an “epiphany moment.” When we are silent and step out of “clock time” into what I like to think of “transcendent time,” we are more open to connect with God.
But why is this so? This is where I had to circle back to my thoughts about my drive home from class. I am the proud father of four kids, fifteen and under. I spend an extraordinary amount of time in the car driving them from activity to activity, either picking them up or driving them to a sports game, a birthday, girl scouts, boy scouts, camp, band, gymnastics meet or simply to get some ice cream. I love my kids and I want to give them the best childhood that they can have, including all the activities they love to be part of. I am in charge of getting them from point A to point B. I need to keep them safe. I need to make sure they get there on time. In between I am asked to change radio stations, no matter whether I am in the middle of a merge on I-635 or not. However, when driving, more often than not, the kids simply stare at their screens or are busy choosing songs to play over the car stereo. When they get in the car first, I ask them excitedly how their day was because I want to be part of their lives. Most of the time I get a “fine” and an “I’m hungry.” Thereafter we move on to picking songs on the stereo or staring at their screens.
No matter how hard I try, the kids fall back into this same tired old routine. I get it, too. They come from school and are finally happy to kick back and relax. The last thing they want to do is to tell this annoying parent what they have been doing all day long. So in the end I am relegated to being the driver. The kids are totally oblivious of what is going on in the outside world. Once we reach our destination they get out and happily do whatever they are there to do. Most of the time I have to order them back to the car to get their stuff out, but sometimes I am just too tired.
I believe that God often feels like the “driver” in our lives. We are busy, not noticing what is going on around us. We take it for granted that we arrive safely somewhere. We get annoyed because the radio does not play the music we want. We get annoyed in the rain, when it takes forever to get anywhere. Often we simply say “hi,” or “my day was great,” or “I am hungry,” and then continue on our smartphone ignoring everything around us. God is not pushy, God is patient and drives us through our lives. Without ever stopping and listening to God we often simply get annoyed, disappointed, desperate, discouraged and lonely in our self-created bubble of distraction. God wants to share community with us, every day all the time, but for this to happen we sometimes simply need to stop and “do nothing.”
If you want to know more about doing nothing please feel free to talk to me in person, by email or by phone. Kurt Maerschel firstname.lastname@example.org 972-835-1909.