Thinking Days (When Is Yours?)

staring-out-window-coffeeAs a parish pastor, I took almost every Monday as a Monastery Day.  I would park myself in a coffee shop with my Bible and laptop and stare into space.  I did what one does in a monastery, only with coffee and wifi.

This was not a vacation day.  It was not my Sabbath.  It was my Thinking Day. It was my favorite day of the week for several reasons.*

The WSJ shared a story last week about – the used car company – and it’s practice of taking a meeting-free day they call Thinking Thursdays. Imagine:  A meeting free day.

The International Justice Mission – which is a great organization, by the way – used to (and maybe still does) have a time every morning in their headquarters when there are no phone calls, no meetings, no one-on-ones except between individuals and God.

We need this.  Here’s a really good TED Talk about Slowing Down with Adam Grant who reminds us that letting ideas marinate in our brains is crucial for creativity.  Grant points out that it took 16 years for Leonardo to finish the Mona Lisa because Leonardo knew all about letting ideas marinate.  Adam Grant calls this marinating time “idea doubt.”  Our first drafts and initial plans almost always require fine-tuning.

“There’s self-doubt and idea doubt. Self-doubt is paralyzing. But idea doubt is energizing.”  Adam Grant

So . . . what would it look like for church offices to have no phone/no technology/no meeting Thinking Times each week?  It could be a whole day or it could be an hour.  Mid-council and other denominational offices could use Thinking Time as well.

If you’ve ever been on a silent retreat, you’ll know that it takes a couple days to looking-out-window-gardenfigure out how to be silent without a racing mind or (for me) excruciating smart phone withdrawal. Do I stare into space?  Do I take a nap?  Do I pray? Do I talk to myself?  Yes.  Yes. Yes. And yes.

And then the brain cracks open.

As the world continues to be a Ceaselessly Noisy Information Fest, one thing the Church can still offer for all people in all places is quiet space.  If a used car company is open to offering Thinking Days, surely we who are in the spiritual life business could do the same.

*100% of my Monastery Days also included meeting a person I never would have met in the church building.  It was a break from the quietude but God always showed up.

Images are stock photos.


8 responses to “Thinking Days (When Is Yours?)

  1. I have been toying with the idea of ‘Mindful Mondays’. A time set apart in the evening for people just to ‘be’ in the sanctuary. Colouring supplies, labyrinths to trace, etc. on hand.

  2. Last paragraph most important for me….

  3. I do this an hour a day – have to, would go crazy if I didn’t have a chance to reflect, ponder, think about what I am doing that day and what is coming up the next few days.

  4. Even retired I do this regularly every morning, and I’m amazed at how it colors my day: how I see people around me, how I speak ( or don’t), and how full the day is with God’s “messages”.

  5. Every Monday I would spend at St Arbucks, with my Bible, resources, and iPad in hand. It shaped my mind for the week to come. And yes, God always showed up.

  6. Thanks for the reminder Jan. I need those weekly breaks when God is more likely to make an appearance; when I don’t schedule them into the totality of my time, I feel less whole (and far less holy!)

  7. Thanks for the reminder! I have been doing my best to observe some thought moments several times a week (or at least once!). The time to reflect about what I’m doing (or not doing) is more and more crucial now –when I no longer have a structured schedule.

  8. I had the luxury of this kind of time when employed full-time by one church. As a person piecing together several part-time ministry gigs, the lack of thinking days is the greatest challenge to my creativity and my spiritual health. One of the jobs goes away at the end of the year, and I will not be replacing it. I’ve learned a lot about my capacity and the necessity of arable territory on the inner landscape.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s