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Sitting This One Out

Which do you choose when the options are to jump in or hang back?

I was grateful to spend a week on a spiritual retreat in southern Portugal this spring. The entire experience was life-giving. In addition to the deep conversations, time for reflection, and renewed and new friendships, there was the gift of glorious food.

Each meal was carefully and joyfully prepared by a young, talented chef, Imi Csendes. On the last evening of the retreat, Imi offered a cooking class, a chance to learn a few of his tips and techniques for preparing beautiful and delicious food. Even though I looked forward to the class, I didn’t join the chopping, dicing, mixing, sautéing, and baking group. At that moment, I realized that I was satisfied enough to sit back and observe. 

I learned a little, though the bits of knowledge I gleaned do not make up my memories of the evening. Instead, it was a quiet conversation with another member of the retreat. I don’t recall the details. I simply remember how peaceful and gratifying it was to share thoughts on life and faith and, of course, observe and offer our unsolicited wisdom to the would-be chefs as the meal came together.

I don’t always choose to relax on the sidelines. I enjoy being in the mix of things and sometimes suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Admittedly, there was a moment or so when I wondered if I “ought” to join the laughter and lively activity in the kitchen. But the contentment from a quiet conversation with another soul made the decision to remain in place an easy choice. 

How often do we allow ourselves time and space to step away from the busy rush of our lives? The question was part of this past Sunday’s message, and yes, I often need to preach to myself. Whether consumed by the “doing” or letting our minds be overwhelmed by the noise, distractions, and decisions that fill our days, we can miss out on the gift of finding a quiet space off to the side. 

Sometimes, God asks us to fully engage, serving, seeking, and doing. And sometimes God needs us to slow down and create space for the Spirit to speak. 

God, give us the gift of discernment to know when to jump in and when to step back. When we choose the quiet place, let us bask in that moment without rethinking our choice. Help us to simply be. Amen. 

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