Take A Breath

I hate to admit it, those three words that out of anyone else’s mouth drive me crazy: I’m too busy.

The days blur by, leaving behind the vague feeling of running around and around on a hamster wheel. Get up, go to work, do chores and take care of other obligations; rinse and repeat. Especially during this time of year, when it’s often too cold and dreary to even get outside and enjoy the sunlight, my days and weeks seem to run together into a grey monotony.

There is one respite: No matter how busy I get, I stubbornly force myself, each and every month, to attend the service project at my church. It takes about 30 minutes; you bring some sandwich-making supplies, throw together a few dozen bologna-and-cheese sandwiches, bag them up for the local homeless shelter, and you’re done.

I try to make excuses: I’m (ugh) too busy. The smell of lunch meat makes me gag. I told someone else I’d do something. But the truth is, I need those 30-odd minutes a month just as much as the people receiving the sandwiches. It’s a time when I can focus completely on someone else, not on myself. It’s a time when I am humbled by a community coming together and the difference we can make – typically 2,000 sandwiches, enough to supply the shelter for a few days. And it’s a chance to regroup and realize how lucky I am, that my day isn’t made or broken by whether I receive a single sandwich to suffice for a whole day.

In today’s world, it seems a me-me-me mentality has become the norm. I’m certainly not always an exception. But when the hamster wheel starts churning again, for just a few moments each month – a tiny sliver of my time – I’m able to focus on we, not me. And in these moments, I find a simple peace and stillness that’s exactly what I need.