Sunday, August 25, 2013

Finding Your Groove (in a groove-less world)

Student assembly address:

I usually go to the 11 a.m. Mass at Our Lady of the Lake on Sunday—there were significantly fewer people there this week. If you live in Sumner County, you know why—Beech High School played Station Camp on ESPN2 beginning exactly at 11 a.m.

The natural order of things is that high school games are played on Friday, college football is played on Saturday, and pro-football is played on Sunday afternoon. There are a few exceptions to that—for the last 44 years, there’s been one NFL game on Monday night and some times there’s a high school, college or NFL game on Thursday night.  We’re playing Fr. Ryan on Thursday in October. ESPN has started airing some college games on Tuesday night, featuring two teams that the only people watching are the parents of the players. Never, ever, however, has there been high school football on Sunday morning. I understand a few area churches re-structured their entire Sunday schedules so that people could be at the game.

As I was coming home from Church, it occurred to me that we’re living in tough times. Times are “tough” not because we lack things, or lack things to do. Really, they’re tough for the exact opposite reason: we have too much, and there’s too much to do. Why is it, for example, that people feel compelled to text-message while they’re driving, even though they know it’s dangerous to do so? I think it’s because we live in such a culture of immediacy, and action, and noise, that we almost have an allergic reaction to silence, and if we sit down and drive somewhere without multi-tasking, we feel like we’re wasting time.

This crazy pace, this busy-ness, this unrelenting dash, creates imbalance in our lives. We can only juggle so many balls. We can only play on so many teams—some of you are playing one two teams right now, one for JPII, one for your club team. By Sunday night, having played in a tournament all weekend, you’re exhausted from a week of school and 4-5 games from the tournament, hardly in a position to do homework well or come to school alert and refreshed on Monday. Some of you are studying too much, giving yourself only a few hours of sleep each night—that’s an unsustainable pace. Some of you are near addicts with text-messaging and social media, spending hours and hours each day, constantly interrupted.

I’m the same way: I keep two email accounts active on this I-phone—a personal email account, and a school account, and when I see the red circle with the number on it, indicating I have that many emails, I feel compelled to open it. I also have three phone numbers feeding into this one phone.  So even when I am away from JPII, it feels like work is chasing me, as if I am always “on.”

Aside from saying “no” more often when people ask us to do things, I know of two remedies for being hyper-busy—just two. The first is exercise. If you’re an athlete in season, you get plenty of it. But if you’re not, and you have to wait 45 minutes for a bus, for example, why not run or walk a few laps around our track down there? Or why not do so before you drive home in your car? Take about 15-30 minutes each day, and you’ll feel the stress melting away.

The second is prayer. We have a wonderful chapel. If you have a tough situation you’re dealing with, or something is causing you worry, or if you just need to get out of the rat race for a few minutes, why not drop by the chapel and ask God to help you? Or if you can’t bring yourself to do that, turn off the radio and cell phone on your way home or way to work and bring those problems to God.

The big challenge for all of us in this ultra-busy, ultra-competitive, completely connected world is to find a groove for ourselves that allows us to keep our commitment to work, family, friends, school, faith in some sort of proper proportion. It used to be we could depend on social institutions to help us do that. We knew that when Friday came, we’d have the weekend to get away, without a phone call or email to suck us back in. When Sunday morning came, we could wake up a bit later and go to Church in the late morning without having to haggle with athletic schedules.

We can’t rely on the usual social structures anymore to help us find the right groove. We must make our own time to pray and to exercise and create that groove for ourselves.

God loves us. He wants us to be happy. But we’re not jellyfish that life happens to, floating wherever the waves take us. He wants us to be pro-active, to take charge of our lives, and to be very protective of our time and our commitments. Ask him for some help in doing so, get regular exercise, and I think this will be a great year for you.  

1 comment:

Christian LeBlanc said...

"But we’re not jellyfish that life happens to..."

Ha! I tell my Sundayschoolers we can't be beached whales, lying there waiting for God to roll us back into the water.