Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 

Philippians 4:6-7

In one of the homilies of Father Litoy Asis at a Filipino Mass in Berwick, he reminded us of creating space for Jesus during the busy Christmas season as a take-home message. I seriously reflected on it and I tried my best do so – avoiding excessive shopping, overeating, and worrying too much about the demands of the season.  

I realised that I was successful only through the power and help of the Holy Spirit by praying for the fruit of self-control. Although the busy season would have been finished by the time this article gets into print, a new year is ushered in and fresh challenges knock at our door. My 2019 calendar-diary is starting to fill up with plans, events and meetings, making me slightly edgy. 

But I am constantly reminded to live one day at a time. My pastoral work at St Michael’s Parish, Berwick includes assisting in funeral arrangements for our parishioners and always, they are wake up calls to live the present moment wisely, treasure relationships and invest on becoming a much better person. My role as pastoral associate giving communion service to aged care and home-bound parishioners requires me to slow down deliberately, a far cry from my corporate work of 25 years that regarded speed as efficiency and potential performance bonus. 

In slowing down, there is a call for gratitude to every blessing received, humble contentment in the state of life we are in, a deepening of trust in a faithful God. But there is also a somber reflection on wanting to be free from any slavery to sin, unhealthy attitudes, bad habits, addictions and deep-rooted ways of thinking, speaking or acting that keep the cycle of iniquity going. It would be great to work towards becoming a much better person in 2019. It could be a worthwhile goal.

There is a reflection I read regularly to slow me down. Wayne Muller, writer shares: “The Chinese word for “busy” is composed of two characters “heart” and “killing”. As we always rush around, trying to get things “done”, we kill something vital in ourselves. We smother the quiet wisdom of our heart. Always striving for speed and efficiency, we lose the capacity to appreciate the million quiet moments that bring us peace, beauty and joy. Frantic busyness actually makes us deaf to what is sacred, both in ourselves and in one another.”

The speed trap is all around us. Everywhere we are asked to hurry and “move it!”  We see the impatience of people in supermarket queues, the sighs of commuters when faced with long delays, the uneasiness when an email or text is not responded to immediately, the hot faces on drivers when hassled by traffic. I am often teased about not driving and taking public transport or walking. But I am glad, despite some inconvenience at times, that I have chosen to do so. It forces me to slow down and use the waiting time to catch my breath and enjoy the quiet moments to pray, meditate or resolve some unfinished business. I pray that my 2019 will be an accomplished year, not so much by the speed I do things, but by the quiet, prayerful way I have done so. 

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