There is an evening ritual that I go through each night with Cat #3 at the parsonage. Each night, I must spend some time in the recliner so that she can curl up on my lap and snooze a bit. The routine is necessary because, due to an uncertain and stressful pre-adoption kitten-hood, Cat #3 came to me with some already built-in anxiety.
Although her life has been stable since I adopted her almost 6 years ago, her anxiety still flairs on a regular basis. Part of keeping her fears at bay is a predictable daily routine, and our shared time on the recliner is part of that routine. If I delay sitting down too long, her stress level starts to rise. If she misses out on her evening snuggle and snooze time in the chair completely, I will see her become more and more anxious over the following 24 hours, regardless of how predictable any other part of the day may have been. And for #3, anxious time is vocal, loud, and very “in your face,” so maintaining the routine has value for me too! But that together time in the recliner brings her peace. It’s where she feels safe and secure.
The truth is that we humans also have a need for that sensation of peace. Our lives are far from predictable. The stresses and worries of daily life are hard to shake off. As summer approaches, many have plans for vacations. Some hope that a vacation will be the answer and that it will provide much need rest and relief from all that makes us anxious. Sometimes a vacation will do that. But vacations are temporary. Vacations cannot address all of our struggles on a regular basis throughout a year. And all too often we try too hard to make the vacation “GREAT,” and in doing so, end up making it just as stressful as daily life.
Where then are we to find peace?
Christ said to the disciples, “My peace I give to you.” Christ wants to surround us with his peace every day and to be that place of respite for us. Christ wants us to be so enveloped in his embrace that we cannot feel alone or doubt that we are loved.
What ritual do you engage in on a daily basis that is devoted to spending time in Christ’s presence and peace? What time do you set aside, not just for prayer and study, but to simply sit with Jesus? For many Christians it helps to have a specific time each day that is set aside just for this purpose. For some, it is helpful to have a special place for this encounter with God, even if it is just one special chair in your home that is used just for this one special thing each and every day. But the most important thing is to take time, every day, to be present with Christ. It must be part of your daily routine.
Sitting in the presence of Christ each day will not eliminate all of the things in your life that bring you stress and anxiety. But it can change how you relate to those stressors, and how your mind and body react to them. If we take time to sit with and focus on the peace of Christ every day, we will gradually become more conscious of the peace of Christ surrounding us throughout the rest of the day.
Taking time to include time focused on peace each day is important for all of us. Cat #3 is not wrong about that! If you don’t have a focused “Peace Time” in your daily routine, I encourage you to start trying to build that into your life now. It is never too late.
May the peace of Christ be with you always!
Pastor Susan Lynch