I don’t know about you, but I’m tired. I was recently talking with the others in the Youth Ministry Division, and we all agreed that we had significantly over-scheduled July. Days, evenings, and weekends have all been full of meetings and programs, preparations for meetings and programs, and working on multiple projects for ministry. The work has been good, but it’s been non-stop.
But a packed schedule isn’t the only reason I’m tired. I’m tired of fighting to make technology work so I can “go” to Mass. I’m tired of facemasks being a political issue. I’m tired of people paying more attention to conspiracy theories than science. I’m tired of violence in our streets drowning out the message of protesters working for justice. I’m tired of staunch political polarization being prioritized over listening to those who have other perspectives and working together toward the common good.
I miss going shopping and returning home with everything that was on my list. I miss getting a haircut on a regular schedule. I miss seeing my colleagues in person at meetings. I miss going to Dodger Stadium for a ballgame. Most of all, I miss breaking bread, both with my parish community at the Sunday Eucharist, and with my friends over a leisurely meal. I miss my community.
Yes, I’m tired. And some days it’s hard to see beyond the many things weighing on my heart. In these moments I try to remember the invitation from Jesus: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). As much as I try to remember the invitation, I’m not always so good about accepting it.
When life gets overwhelmingly busy, it can be tempting to skip time for prayer. Making time for prayer can be difficult when jumping from one Zoom call to the next, scrambling to complete work before a pending deadline or to finalize preparations before the start of a program, and trying to squeeze in a few minutes here and there to at least read some of the emails that have hit my inbox. “I have so much I need to do today; I’ll just pray tomorrow when I have a bit more time,” can seem like such a reasonable and even productive plan at the time. But invariably, the space that had been available in the next day gets filled, too. Once I slip into the cycle of delaying prayer until “tomorrow,” time seems to get less and less available as the days go on. Little by little it becomes more difficult to focus. I wind up feeling more scattered and become less productive, not more. Gradually my stress and anxiety levels build, often without me even realizing it’s happening. It can be difficult to break free from this cycle.
I’ve learned that when I realize I’m stuck in this cycle, the first thing I need to do is stop. I need to stop so I can see exactly where I am and how I got there. I need to recognize and acknowledge what happened and how I got myself here this time. I need to stop and see that Jesus has been there with me the entire time, quietly waiting for me to stop. I need to stop and just spend some time with Jesus. Then, together we can start finding a path forward. And along the way I need to be sure I take time to just stop.