You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24
As school started this year, we found our schedules fuller than they have ever been. With four children in school full-time, one part-time, and the baby, life seemed to be going at rocket-speed. By the time activities, practices, and homework was done every night, so were we. Exhausted, stressed, burned-out. Our whole family was feeling it, and productivity was slow. What to do? Pull out of all activities, stop playing sports? That really isn’t us and isn’t the way we function. We believe in helping the children to grow as well-rounded as possible – music, sports, reading, school are all very important. Something was missing though. Our focus was off. I prayed about how we could help to make our family more productive and more peaceful.
The answer came to me in the title of an email at work one night. “Mind, Body, Spirit” Hmmm… How? Adding something to our evening routine? Really? We don’t have time as it is. Barely time to breathe, Lord. But we decided to try. We sat the children down and said that every evening we were going to have family down time. We are trying to have this time take precedence over everything else.
At the beginning of every school mass, our pastor asks the school children what they need to do first, before the Sacred Liturgy begins. The answer is, “Stop.” He then asks them who has to stop. “The teachers.” “You.” “The old people in the back (the parents).” “Us.” Everyone has to stop. Stop and deliberately focus on what was to come in the Eucharist.
We start with family prayer time (Spirit). We pray a decade of the Rosary (or more depending on the day) and have begun praying more Novenas, which stimulates conversations about the origins of these prayers. It also helps to increase how intentionally we pray as a family (prior to this time, we would pray before meals, before games, any time we get into the car, before bed) and for intentions of others.
Spirit time usually leads into Mind time. We talk about what is going on in each other’s lives with more purpose. We talk about current events as they relate to the children. Sometimes “Mind” is quiet reading time or working on a puzzle as a family.
For “Body” we focus on strength-training of some sort. The children love to do planks and see who can hold them and for how long. They do push-ups or mountain climbers. It is fun to see everyone improving from their own baseline.
Rather than causing us to be more chaotic, this forced break in our busyness has helped us focus better on what really matters, on God and each other. As a result, we are also able to complete other tasks in a more timely fashion and with more peace, especially during this time of Advent and waiting as we prepare our hearts and homes for our Lord.
Dear Lord, Help us to keep holy our time with You. Help us to remember that only by renewing our minds, bodies, and spirits in You will we be able to truly prepare our hearts and homes for Your Son, Jesus. In Jesus’ name, Amen.