Today's Lectionary Text
Come and find the quiet center in the crowded life we lead,
(“Come and Find the Quiet Center” composed by Shirley Erena Murray, The Faith We Sing #2128, verse 1)
Twice a year the city of Hutchinson is descended upon by hordes of people. In the spring the visitors come to take in the best that community college basketball can offer at the National Junior College Athletic Association Basketball Tournament. Traffic around the arena is often a bit snarled and there is not a hotel room to be found in the city that week. But in September, our population expands to include thousands of visitors each day while the Kansas State Fair is underway.
Those of us who live in Hutchinson often find our lives a bit disrupted for the 10-day run of the fair – plus a few days either side as carnival rides, large agricultural display items, and food vendors haul in and later tear down and haul away their displays and wares. Traffic is often more snarled than we are used to seeing with street closings around the fairgrounds and an influx of vehicles from across the state and beyond. The noise level rises significantly in the neighborhoods around the fairgrounds. (You don’t necessarily need a ticket for a grandstand show if you just want to enjoy the music from your front porch or back patio.) And then, there is the dust that hangs in the air for almost two weeks – fine particles that stir up allergies, especially in dry, drought-ridden years.
The Kansas State Fair ended its 2022 run on Sunday. While there are still exhibits to be hauled away, most of the activity on the fairgrounds is slowly returning to its normal pace throughout the other 50 weeks of the year. The major streets that were closed for the past two weeks have reopened. The din of carnival rides and games, of announcers’ voices over scratchy loudspeakers in the show pavilions, and from concert/show venues are silenced. And the dust is beginning to settle.
That’s a long introduction to my thoughts for today, but necessary background.
The quoted lyrics are from one of my favorite hymns in The Faith We Sing. “Come and Find the Quiet Center” calls us to step away from the noise and frenzy that often surrounds us in life. We are called to step back from the things that clutter our minds, spirits, and lives – to seek out a place where we can “simply be.”
I enjoy going to the state fair – although I must admit that I do not enjoy it as much as I did in younger years! There is something, though, about the energy, the smell of fried foods, and the enjoyment I see in others’ faces that draws me into the chaos. There are, in fact, many things in life that draw me into a web of busyness and clutter. My first six months of retirement taught
me that once I had gotten some rest I wanted – no, needed – work and order in my life. So, I began doing volunteer “work” and joined an in-depth Bible study. Then came other things. And soon my life was just as crowded and cluttered as it had been while I was a serving pastor.
I must remind myself from time to time that while I enjoy the busyness, chaos, and noise of the state fair, I am always very happy for the week after the fair as life returns to “normal” in my neighborhood. Likewise, there are points in my daily life where my calendar looks a bit overwhelming, and I need to withdraw for a while. I need to look for the places where I can let hope enter my life. Where I may be freed from the chaos and clutter of life, and simply be.
Prayer for Reflection
Holy One, help me to seek the quiet and peace of your presence in my daily life so that I can see the needs around me even as I enjoy the busyness that life has to offer. Amen.
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