When I make space for quiet time, which usually looks like 10-ish minutes every 2 days, I’ll emphasize journalling. A scribbly note-taking of the basic events of the past couple days, with some notable insights. It may devolve into more poetic musings. It may be a chronicle of feelings, or simply a listing of facts. Sometimes work-thoughts are pressing and I’ll scribble a to-do list. There may even be the occasional doodle.
Since I was young, journalling has been a way to process what’s happening for me. Sometimes I get stuck in season where it seems that all I ever do is give myself an introspective swirly, repeatedly shoving my head in the toilet of negative ruminations, and my journal reflects back to me the stuckness of those times. It has caused me in numerous seasons in my life to give up journalling altogether.
This season, I’m in. For some reason, I’ve got a rhythm were the note-taking is sticking. The musings aren’t getting mired in the negative; they are constructively documenting what’s real for me, and helping me move forward.
Another habit I have for this quiet time is reading a book. I usually stick to some contemplative, poetic readings that can centre my mind and grant me some wisdom. David Whyte’s Consolations was one from this year. Brené Brown’s work as well; this year, Dare to Lead. Any text that brings thoughtful wisdom into the day will work just fine. I’ll read only a page or two, write down some reflections, and be on with it.
Another text I’ll read in some quiet times, a pattern I borrowed from my own family, is reading passages from my bible. I used to have a “Student Bible” I received when I was 10, but in a recent shift, I put that duct-taped volume on my bookshelf, and have been reading a different edition.
It’s a version translated by the late Eugene Peterson, who taught at Vancouver’s Regent College for a number of years. The version I’m reading (“Remix”) was designed and laid-out by Vancouver studio Burnkit, whose founder inspired my own journey into the world of design and creativity in the late 90s. (I came across their design work on an iconic postcard, and followed the trail until it led to their studio in Railtown, where the company I work for is now also located.)
Eugene’s work is “the Bible in contemporary language.” He’s done away with verse-numbering and thees-and-thous, and writes as if it’s colloquial storytelling.
In reading tonight, in his translation of the book of Luke, Eugene has written a part where this happens:
Jesus is being grilled by some religious leaders, who want to know when “the kingdom of God” will come. Jesus answers, “The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or “There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you.”
Eugene/Jesus is saying, “It’s here, it’s now.”
It’s the type of stunning, glorious, gorgeous insight that took me so many years to consider. Maybe we are not waiting for anything. Maybe already, paradise and peace is possible, and the only thing stopping us from participating is ourselves.
Here and now matters. I’m asked to bring the best of my gifts, to love the people in front of me, and to participate in the renewal of all things.