During this time of pandemic, our patterns and rhythms of life have changed. Some of us find ourselves with more open time and space filled with silence that we have not practiced. You may hear words from your older children and teens in your house like, “I am bored!” This movement is counter to our normal pace that is full of words, movement, and busyness.
Cultivating more contemplative space is a powerful tool for ourselves and for young people in our lives. How can you use the spaces and silence of this time as a tool during this pandemic?
If you are anything like our family, we sometimes only know how to move at mach speed with a million things to do! We have practiced quick movement through checklists and errands, doing homework between sporting events, and “all hands on deck” chaos. Silence and stillness, though, is an unpracticed mode of living.
Just like the many other things that we teach our young people, we can make sure that we provide a good example of contemplation and rest. We can provide ourselves with some contemplative practices that allow our bodies to shift down into a slower speed: engage in a daily prayer time, enjoy our coffee or tea, grow flowers or plants, engage in deep and unhurried conversations that are not rushed, play board games, open up a puzzle. We are teaching our bodies how to live in this space and at this pace.
We can also teach our young people to cultivate space for silence, for pausing, and for prayer during the pandemic. We can accompany our young people in our homes as she or he learns to do the same. We can encourage our young people to fight the urge to fill every space with digital interfaces. Instead, we can invite them into deep conversations about their dreams, friends, and feelings. When we engage in these conversations, use the feelings wheel that I wrote about two weeks ago. From my experience, it helps print it out and have it ready for that moment when your young person approaches you confused about “everything” or anything. Ask them to explain and talk about what feelings this pandemic is stirring in them.
Sometimes we end real conversations too early saying nothing about our real feelings. Try these prompts:
- Why do you think that you felt that way?
- What do you think, in this situation, is important for you to do or change?
- What could happen if anything was possible?
- What’s the dream you are afraid to say aloud?
In speaking to young people, it is important that we encourage their own thoughts and processing without taking their ideas personally. I try to take my own plans, aspirations, dreams, and even self-concern and move it to the side to allow the young person room to explore his thoughts or ideas.
Young people can also participate in contemplative thought and prayer. Guide them to reflect, journal, and sit with these open spaces with God and their feelings and dreams in dialogue. One tool I love to use with young people is the Examen. The Examen gives a framework for reflection, giving young people (and us) a space to see what life is bringing and where God is calling us. I created this extended Examen tool that has proved very effective for young people. As one young person expressed to me when doing the Examen, God is not somewhere else; “God is here.”
May we each invite God into this pandemic space. May we also invite our young people to create space for God in this time as well. God is here.
- LEARN MORE: To learn more about Stephanie’s ministry and resources, check out her website! You can download prayer tools for young people such as the Examen, the Colloquy, and a feelings review. Sign up also for her blog to expand your tool box for prayer.
- Try the app “Reimagining the Examen” by Fr. Mark Thibodeaux, SJ
- Gather with Stephanie & I for Prayer Tool Tuesday – Each Tuesday at 4:30 pm Central via Zoom- to learn a new prayer tool and join us in prayer. Follow my Facebook page for details.
- Online Busy Person’s Retreat Registration OPEN!! Wanting one-on-one prayer support during this time? Looking to dive deeper? Register for the Online Busy Person’s Retreat on June 22-25. You’ll be paired with an Ignatian-trained spiritual director to meet online for about an hour a day for four-days and given material and suggestions to support your daily prayer time. Register today!
- I am happy to be a part of Waiting for the Spirit, a retreat from Ascension to Pentecost with Ignatianspirituality.com, starting May 22. To get the daily content sent to your email, join the Year in our Church email list here.
- Jon me for an online retreat and workshop on the Sacred Art of Listening with the Loyola Summer Institue for Catholic Educational Leadership. June 1: 9am-12pm CDT for a retreat on the sacred art of lisetneing in our own lives. June 2: 9am-12pm CDT for a workshop on how to apply the sacred art of listening. Registration is required.
- Take my poll, please! When would you like to see me offer live virtual retreats – Saturday mornings or Weekdays? While you’re over there, be sure to like my facebook page!
- Visit my Spiritual Support webpage with more resources during this unprecedented time of COVID-19 and follow me on Facebook & Instagram for daily scripture inspiration and for the latest resources.
The Inner Chapel: My New Book!
- My new book, The Inner Chapel: Embracing the Promises of God is now available! As a sincere “Thank You!” to all of you for your support, my publisher has extended a 30% off code for orders and preorders through August 13. Simply go to Loyolapress.com/innerchapel and use promo code 5207. You can also pre-order from Barnes and Noble and from Amazon for Kindle and paperback.
- SHARE WITH US: We would LOVE to see a picture of your reading The Inner Chapel. Please post a picture of you enjoying the book on your social media and tag my Becky Eldredge page on facebook or @beldredge98 on Instagram or Twitter.
- Did you know that The Inner Chapel is now available in audiobook, ebook, and paperback?!