written by Rev Gary Heard

Some weeks this column erupts like a shaken bottle of Coke. The idea is one which is easy to convert from notion to paper, and flows quickly from mind to expression. There are weeks when the very idea is squeezed like the remaining sauce in a bottle. It has to be subjected to a range of experiments before it is finally moved, albeit slowly.

This week, the idea came early, and has lived with me through the week. It has also been played out over the course of the week with uncanny realism. It is as though the case has needed to be made afresh in my own life, although I would argue a forceful case in another direction… It revolves around the primary models of spirituality which we have inherited and are taught to us as sustaining models for faith. Most, if not all of them are grounded in notions of stillness and solitude. They require a discipline which craves and claims an intentional “quiet time” with God.
Since returning from our time overseas, quiet and still times have been as scarce as diuretics in the Australian World Cup squad’s dressing room. With the backlog of unattended issues demanding attention, school restarting, and a diary needing to be organised, each day would begin and end with a bang. There was barely a moment’s respite in the day.

When I reflect on the models of spirituality given to us, I see that they are grounded in stillness and silence. Quiet Time? Even that was interrupted with snoring!

It strikes me that my story is neither uncommon, nor isolated. Modern city life is impregnated with and punctuated by activity. If we limit the nurture of our spirituality to an isolated and quiet time, we run the risk of failing to connect with God in the moment of the day, if not missing out on the quiet moment at all, because sleep is the first call when we finally slow down. Can we embody a model of faith which is at work with us? Can we find connections with God in the midst of the day, rather than through a discipline practised merely at the ends?

I have found that my life ebbs and flows with activity. Sometimes for weeks, even months on end I can be pressed through every part of the day and week. Were I to neglect my spiritual journey in such circumstances, I would soon be going to an empty well when demands of ministry pressed in. Rather than engorge myself in the leaner times, I have found ways of nurture which fit the rhythms of different days. I can often be found carrying a book, which I can read in a few spare moments. When held up for an appointment, or waiting at a tram stop, I intentionally search through and reflect on the environment in which I find myself, asking the question: “Where is God to be found here?” I am often surprised and nourished by the experience.

There is no one right way to develop our relationship with God, just as there is a variety of ways to develop human relationships. We need to be creative and intentional in nurturing our walk with Jesus in a busy and demanding world.

February 16, 2003
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