Ponderings: Finding time for contemplation

fields separated by trees

As I pondered this issue’s Ponderings, I found my mind crowded with tasks, ideas, worries, appointments, “gotta-dos,” concerns about my family and the world around me. I was distracted by an article on my iPad, emails on my computer, text messages on my phone, Facebook notifications, even the news on the radio.

There’s much written about the rapid decline of time to “just think.” No longer are we finding ourselves undistracted or alone with our thoughts, which, I believe, negatively impacts our ability to think creatively or write convincingly.

Don’t get me wrong – I love being connected. It’s amazing to be able to have any piece of information right at my fingertips, to be able to communicate with people around the globe at the speed of light, to fill all of my downtime with something to do. But sometimes, my brain just needs some “alone time.”

There’s a quote over my desk from the inventor, Nikola Tesla: “Originality thrives in seclusion, free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind.” I’m sure many others have expressed similar sentiments.

Finding seclusion in this day and age is admittedly difficult. With the barrage of information flying at us at all times, along with work and family responsibilities, volunteer efforts, overscheduled lifestyles and more, contemplation time has become a premium.

The lack of contemplation time impacts not only our ability to think creatively, it affects our prayer lives, too. Some are good at making time for intentional prayer, others are good at weaving prayer into their routine no matter how busy they get. Yet there are many who come to the end of a busy day realizing the constant flow of mind traffic has gotten in the way of their time to have a conversation with God.

Seclusion doesn’t mean heading to a cabin in the woods (although sometimes, that’s a good thing…) It can be a 15-minute walk around the block without a cell phone or music player; a lunchtime with nothing but lunch (no reading material, no iPad); or an hour with e-mail turned off. I’m finding that some time to just let my mind wander without distraction can do wonders for creativity, focus and prayer.

This morning, as I was thinking of what to write, I put this into practice. A five-minute commute is far too short for thinking time, so I took “the long way” in – a route that kept me alone in my car for about 20 minutes. I turned off the news, didn’t listen to music, ignored my phone and just drove. About ten minutes in, ideas started flowing. At 15 minutes in, I said a quick prayer. When I arrived at the office, I was ready to write.

So after reading this issue of The Moravian Magazine or viewing it on www.moravian.org, I invite you to find a bit of seclusion yourself. Take just a few minutes to get away from it all – and come back with a refreshed mind and spirit. And if you see me walking the neighborhood or taking the long way in, know that I’m seeking that time to think and pray…and hopefully create better for it.


Mike Riess