by Mary Noble Garcia

Not long ago I decided to put myself in time-out.  I drew from wisdom learned almost two decades earlier.

I had been home all day with my three-year-old son. He had perceptively pushed every one of my buttons.  I felt overwhelmed and exhausted.  I needed to take action—to try something new.  I surprised myself in a decision to put myself in time-out.  I sat down in the little chair, knees to chest, faced the corner, and set the timer for three minutes.  My son sat quietly, stunned at the turn of events. My eyes met his gaze as he compassionately drew his face close to mine.

Meeting with my spiritual director a few days later, I bemoaned the fact that I had no spiritual life. The only quiet time I had taken since I had last seen her was in that time-out chair.  She patiently listened and replied, “This is your spiritual life. This is where you meet God.”  This?  Reflecting back, I realized that the decision to put myself in time-out was possibly the most loving thing I could have done for myself and for my son at that moment. I had met God in that time-out chair.  Those three minutes gave me time to pause, take a deep breath, adjust my attitude, gain new perspective, and pay attention to God’s loving presence in and around me—so I could be the presence of love for my son.

Once again I am feeling overwhelmed—this time by the brokenness and suffering in our nation and world.  I remember: This is my spiritual life. This is where I meet God.  I find that little time-out chair and set the timer.  I pause to be quiet, to listen and remember my Source, Divine Love, which grounds me, sustains me, guides me.  I take a deep breath and remember to walk slowly so I might follow the path leading toward love.  I adjust my attitude and remember to consider my unique gifts and the circumstances of my life in discerning how I am called to act for justice.  I gain perspective and remember to trust in the power of community acting together for change. I pay attention and remember God’s love in and around me, giving me courage to act for love and to be the presence of love in the world.

May you consider the possibility of putting yourself in time-out to remember.  This is your spiritual life.  How are you called to be the presence of love in the world?