June 11, 2021

Guest Column / Richard Etienne

Set something down, make room for the important things in life

Richard EtienneImagine that you are trying to carry too many groceries into the house after a trip to the store. Can you really safely carry a watermelon, two plastic bags of groceries and a gallon of milk in one trip?

It seems reasonable that you may have to physically set something down before continuing.

Now imagine in this same scenario trying to actually pick up another item—let’s say a carton of eggs—while continuing to carry the grocery items that are already in your arms. Seems almost crazy, doesn’t it?

This illustration should lead us to ponder: why do so many of us attempt to cram so many activities into our lives on any given day? Is the most overwhelmed individual in the end the “winner” in this game called life?

Would it be wise to “set something down”—metaphorically—to make room for other more important things in our “arms”?

Notice in the Gospels how often Jesus “goes away” to pray—Lk 5:16; Mk 1:35; Mt 14:23, to cite a few scriptural references. Why didn’t he continue to heal and preach continuously? What possibly could be gained by taking time to be alone for short periods in a place of quiet, and/or solitude to communicate with the Father?

If we’re honest with ourselves, we would understand quiet time would be helpful in discerning what is important in our own lives and possibly help us in prioritizing the many tasks that constantly cry for our time and energy.

Isn’t God’s spirit available to us at all times and in all places? Reflecting on ways to pray, in the Gospel of Matthew, we read, “But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you” (Mt 6:6).

What measures could we use to determine the importance of every demand that seems to assert itself on our limited time? Could we ask God to show us what tasks are part of his plan in our lives—and what activities we may need to set down?

When would be a good time to do this assessment? How about now?

(Richard Etienne has a degree in theology from Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad and resides in Newburgh, Ind.)

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