The Oasis - March 27, 2019

Author: Rev. Dan Hollis
March 27, 2019

March 27, 2019
Dan Hollis

     What do you do when you need to focus? When there’s something you need to think long and hard about, or there’s something important you need to get done, and your mind just won’t settle. You’ve got all kinds of things stretching your attention in one way and another, and they won’t let you be grounded even for a second.
     Sometimes it’s important things. The bills, the job, an argument with a family member that’s been hanging over your heads for days, the car’s been making a noise that sounds pretty expensive, your friend is in the hospital, or there’s a law being proposed on the floor of some legislature that might end up completely upending your life.
     Aaaand sometimes it’s the not-so-important things.
     Our minds can get so noisy—many times even more noisy than our lives. It becomes a chore and a challenge to quiet everything and narrow our consciousness to that one thing that needs it. Whether that need is the plight of a friend, a decision to be made, or a project to finish… our lives and our minds often conspire to pull our focus, to distract our purpose even just a little. Just enough to make it difficult.
     I have my own tools that I try to use when the rubber hits the road and I’m not finding the focus (or the willpower) to meet the challenge. For me, I find walking almost a meditative experience. The act of walking and letting the world pass around me often puts me in a state where my mind is strangely free. I’ve done some of my best thinking and come to some very difficult decisions while I let my feet bring me from point A to point B. As long as it’s a route I know well and I don’t have to think about whereI’m going, I find it settles my spirit.
     Conversely, when I’m sat down writing a sermon and my mind is running on three hundred different tracks (not counting the few hundred that aren’tsermon related), I often find myself putting on some rock music. Usually classic, or punk, or whatever genre you’d call Meat Loaf. I don’t know why it works, but maybe the part of my mind that gets distracted is so busy rocking out that it isn’t bothering the business-end of my brain anymore.
     My third tool—big surprise—is prayer. I think one of the benefits people of faith have is the belief that there is something bigger than us that can hold the things we can’t. When we find we’re spinning too many plates, or juggling too many flaming chainsaws, we havesomewhere we can put the extras. God doesn’t mind holding our baggage for us for a while. In fact, God loves doing it! When we need to quiet our minds, when we need to focus, we can ask God take care of what’s keeping us so restless. To hold these concerns, these issues, these worries until we’re ready to hold them again. It’s a kind of trust that takes a lot of practice, but when we cantrust that God won’t let our world fall apart for the few moments we aren’t watching it, it gives us the freedom to let go and be fully present to the singular need of the moment.
     So whatever it is you need to focus on this week, whatever it is life and gray matter are making difficult, know that you are not alone in the struggle. Know that there are so many tools out there that so many use every day, and that you aren’t helpless. And know that when you can’t juggle even one more chainsaw, God will be there to catch them.

Song I’m listening to these days:  “Come Sail Away,” by Styx.

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