We take a minute today to consider the Time Management chapter of Met. ANTHONY Bloom’s powerful “Beginning to Pray.” I like time management books, seminars, tools, etc. but that is not what this chapter is about. He spends almost no time on time management the way we understand it today. He begins by acknowledging that managing time is one of the most important problems we face today. His goal is to address the problem of praying within the speed at which our lives are moving. His focus is even more poignant considering the book was written almost 40 years ago! He says, “I will spare you any description of the way in which one can make time: I will only say that if we try and waste a little less of it, there will be more of it. If we use crumbs of wasted time to try to build short moments of recollection and prayer, we may discover that there is quite a lot of it.” Met. ANTHONY discusses our concept of time and how to live in the present moment. His use of the story of Jesus in the boat asleep as the storm comes up on the Sea of Galilee is masterful. I have previously blogged about his thoughts on the calming of the storm and staying in The Present Moment here.
Once we have found wasted time, be it 5 minutes or more, we can redeem it for reflection and prayer by being silent. He describes an old woman who had been praying the Jesus Prayer for 14 years and had never perceived God’s presence. She was praying the Jesus Prayer without trying to listen for the voice of God. He advised her to sit in silence and try to listen instead of only talking all the time. After she sat for 15 minutes she told Met. ANTHONY, “I perceived that the silence was not just an absence of noise, but that the silence had substance. It was not the absence of something but the presence of something. The silence had a density, a richness and it pervaded me. The silence around me began to come and meet the silence in me. All of a sudden I perceived that the silence was a Presence. At the heart of the silence was Him who was all stillness, all peace, all poise.” She continued to pray for 10 more years (dying at 102 years old) using words until she found Him in silence. According to Met. ANTHONY this can happen to us if we would be intent to not always be doing something. As beginners we should not try the highest form of silencing the mind in the heart. But rather we should start by silencing our lips, minds, bodies, iPods, etc. “And from now on we must learn to listen in silence, to be absolutely quiet and we may, more often then we imagine, discover that the Lord wants to come into our hearts and the words of the Book of Revelation come true: “I stand at the door and knock.”
Today’s readings in the Orthodox Church: Acts 25:13-19; John 16:23-33