The word “Convenience” has been bouncing around my brain. It is generally used to mean that something is suitable or doable with little effort or difficulty. A convenience store is one that is open at hours when people might conceivably need a specific item or items, and other stores are closed. The British frequently call a room with a toilet a “convenience.” To me, it means being able to do (or not do) things when I choose rather than when I am compelled to do them.
Being retired, sort of, I am enjoying living life as I want. Well, at least as I can. I can get up when I want to, go to bed when I feel like it, take a nap every day if, as my aunt would have said, “When the Spirit moves me,” clean the house when I feel like it and so forth. I can come and go as I please, at times that are convenient for me, but then there are things where convenience doesn’t always come into play.
When is it convenient? For example, my house needs vacuuming. I’ve got bunches of cat hair all over the floor that I could almost weave into a new carpet. But the noise of the vacuum cleaner disturbs the cats. Gandhi doesn’t mind so much, and sometimes even lets me groom him with the upholstery brush, but the noise machine severely disconcerts the other two. I need to find a time when they are inconvenienced as little as possible. That’s my job as a crazy cat lady, convenient for me or not.
I guess I sometimes see God as a kind of convenience store, open when I need something and find that I can get it at the one place in town that’s open at that time of day or night. I like the convenience of not having to drive five or 6 miles to the bank to deposit a check. I appreciate the convenience of having a grocery store about 2 miles down the road where I can order my groceries online and pick them up without having to go into the store. It is convenient to fill out medical forms and submit them before I have to be at the doctor’s office. I like the convenience of having fast food places close by that I can duck into if I happen to be out and I get hungry. I enjoy the life of comfort, but I know that, like eating lots of vanilla ice cream or chocolates, it isn’t good for me, especially when it impacts my spiritual life.
There are lots of people who find the time every day to do their meditations. These are people who have busy lives; they work, entertain, participate in community activities, and go to church. They lead full lives, yet they find time for God. It may mean inconveniencing themselves somewhat, but it’s something that they feel they need and that their spiritual life craves at the same time.
A lot of times, I find myself praying at night when I struggle to go to sleep. I don’t always use words, although many times I will lie there and remember people for whom I should be praying and asking for guidance for my own mixed up life. But sometimes just lying there and letting my mind focus on a word (my favorite is the word nothing) and wait for the silence to calm my thoughts and put me in a more receptive state than I can usually manage during the day. Lately, a mockingbird has kept me company in my night watches, and as I focus on that, I think about God creating the birds and giving them songs, but gifting the mockingbird with the ability to copy the songs of others. Perhaps he is singing a love song or “stay off my property,” or “I’m looking for a mate, have nest all ready.” But maybe it has some praise to God in it too; the God, who watches over nests and brings male and female birds together, protects their eggs when the parents are away, and subtly guiding the thoughts of the young birds to the need to leave the nest and fly. Those are good thoughts to have at night.
I think I need to be more conscious of what needs to be done versus when I find it convenient. The vacuuming isn’t going to do itself, nor am I going to schedule a prayer time that doesn’t conflict with something else that I want or need to do. But yet I do need to have some time set aside for conversation with God even if neither of us says a word. Sometimes that is the greatest gift of communion, confidence, and trust, that can happen between two beings. It happens with old friends with whom I have had many conversations, and the relationship has reached the point where we can sit in silence and be perfectly comfortable. I feel that way with God now and then, and now I realize that I really need more of it than I’ve actually physically tried to let happen. But, I will do my best to do those things that allow me to rest in God and give God a chance to talk. At least, that won’t wake the cats!
Image: Snacks in Japanese Convenience Store, Author Martin Lewison. Found at Wikimedia Commons.
Linda Ryan is a co-mentor for an Education for Ministry group, an avid reader, lover of Baroque and Renaissance music, and retired. She keeps the blog Jericho’s Daughter. She is also estate manager and administrative assistant for Dominic, Phoebe, and Gandhi.