Yesterday evening, I made my way out to the garage for a quick workout. With book in hand, I stepped onto the elliptical nestled between the bins and the clutter.
I opened my book and quickly realized the dim 5:00 December light coming in from the open garage doors would not be enough for my aging eyes – even with my glasses perched on my nose. I squinted. I tried. I tried harder, but to no avail.
My son had my phone. I couldn’t use the flashlight to help with the dim lighting and the option of mindlessly scrolling didn’t exist.
I had 25 minutes left to kill.
Could I really be out here doing nothing but moving my legs and arms back and forth on this machine pushed up against the wall of my garage? My garage that is in desperate need of an organizational overhaul.
But the bigger question was this: Have I really grown so accustomed to distractions that 25 minutes alone with my thoughts feels like too much?
When I run – I listen to music or podcasts.
When I am on exercise machines – I read or scroll through my phone or watch the televisions with their closed captions that are perched on the walls of the rec center.
When I lay down at night – I turn on Netflix, or look at my phone, or read.
When I fold laundry and cook – I turn on the Food Network.
When I am sitting in the carline at the elementary school – I work.
I am always doing something. I am constantly filling the space in my head with anything other than silence.
I am busy. I am distracted. I am a silence-filler.
And it’s so much a part of my life, that I didn’t even fully realize it until I was faced with 25 minutes alone with my thoughts.
I wish I could say I was good with those 25 minutes. I wish I could say I was focused and prayerful and mindful.
For a few minutes here and there, I was.
But for the most part, it was a bit painful.
I am so out of practice.
Being in one space in complete silence with zero distractions is foreign to me.
At one point, I tried to read again – same lighting. Same results.
At one point, my son came out and I quickly said, “Please, go get me my phone.” But I probably didn’t say please.
Once my phone was back in hand, my sister FaceTimed me and I talked to her for a few minutes.
I scrolled for a bit, but then was convicted – Why can’t I be in the silence? Why is this so hard for me?
So, I went back to it.
I looked at the minutes ticking away as my legs and arms moved back and forth. Time usually moves so fast, but here and now – it was like molasses.
I wish this wasn’t so hard for me.
God, why is this so hard?
Yesterday, on the elliptical in my cluttered garage, I realized the space I was working out in is kind of a metaphor for my life and my mind right now. It’s a bit cluttered. There’s a lot going on. There’s some stuff I’m probably avoiding that I need to sort through. And probably some beautiful treasures waiting to be found – if only I would take the time.
Maybe 25 minutes is a big place to start. Maybe I’m not quite ready to jump into 25 minutes of silence. But five minutes – that seems reasonable. Five minutes of just sitting – without television, without a book, without anything – just me, my thoughts, my convictions, my dreams and my prayers to my God.
Five minutes. No distractions.
Five minutes. No phone.
Five minutes. No lists.
I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.
A new practice. A new rhythm. An invitation to be mindful and quiet and prayerful and present.