The Work of the Soul

Victoria Moran on meditation and spiritual practice:

If this puts your work ethic on red alert, remind yourself that the work of the soul doesn’t always look like much from the outside.  The spirituality of everyday life includes listening to another person without a time allotment, watching the seasons change outside your windows, and being with your own musings without chiding yourself for inactivity.  It includes knowing that any time spent by conscious choice is never wasted.

Victoria Moran, Shelter for the Spirit

Everything is in a hurry now.  Get up, hurry up and take a shower, race everyone on the freeway to get to work, hurry and fit as much as possible into a day of school, come home, eat dinner, rush off to choir practice or yoga or whatever, rush home, hurry and finish whatever household chores or work tasks need completed, go to bed, start all over again.  Every part of life seems to assume we want the fastest, most efficient method.  At the grocery store, we try to choose the fastest check-out line.  We record our t.v. shows so that we can fast-forward through the commercials.

I don’t think it needs to be this way.  In the classroom, I am changing my thinking a little bit.  You can’t hurry kids.  You just cannot do it.  They will take as long as they take, no matter how many times you say, “Hurry up, it’s time to go!”  So I asked myself…What are the nonnegotiables of our day?  Arrival, lunch, and dismissal.  And the odd, out-of-routine things like assemblies.  Everything else can be different from day to day.  What if our morning large group time goes longer than usual, and they only get 15 minutes to play in centers?  So what if we speed through morning message and they play in centers for an hour?  Even the “routine kids” don’t need set times, they just need things in the right order.  Isn’t a low-stress environment worth much more learning than a certain number of minutes of centers or large group or small groups?  The work of the young mind doesn’t always look like much to the untrained observer, either.

In another chapter of Shelter for the Spirit, Ms. Moran points out: 

We savor life by expecting nothing and experiencing everything.  When we go at high speed, we miss it.  An evening or a Saturday or a three-day weekend is, when lived slowly, a luxuriously long time.  Slow living means paying attention.

I think this principle can even be applied to the busy workweek evening.  No matter how busy, you can only get so much done in five or six hours, right?  So, first, what is essential for this evening?  Second, what can you do to make it peaceful and joyful?  Do you need to sit in silence for 10 minutes first?  Do you need to stop at Starbucks for a cold drink while you are in the grocery store?  Do you need to put on some music while you do housework?  Do you need to find a good movie you’ve seen a hundred times, or some t.v. on DVD to watch while you do the work that you brought home?  Whatever it is, it’s your life, and you deserve to let go of “hurried and stressed” and be joyful and peaceful.  The work of the soul goes on, whether you are sitting in silence or not.

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