Do I have time-out in my life? As a Capuchin am I having some sort of serenity on my face? Have I heard people telling me that they are inspired to silence after meeting Capuchin Friars? These are relevant questions. If you answer is 'yes' you are already a blessing. Finding a personal safe every now and then is really helpful. In time-out one could discover many realities which are bye passed without much attention. But they could be the ones that could bring true well-being to one's life. Those who started doing that enjoy its benefits and never give it up.
Br. Mauro Jӧhri, our General Minister, recently spoke to us during one of our fraternal gatherings, telling that he had drawn lots of strength during this year's vacation when he just spent few days and quality time, working with simple people of his country and in quiet places of his liking. He used to refer to the advantage of being alone sometime, spending time in quietness and enjoy that atmosphere. We have seen him coming out with some creative and inspirational articles after those experiences.
Andrew Smart in his book The Art & Science of Doing Nothing, reflects about the advantage of doing nothing purposefully, he refers to the research in neuroscience to support his thought telling that it brings happiness: "Recent research is revealing that some forms of self-knowledge may only appear to us in idle states. In our frantic chase for gain, we suppress our brain's natural ability to make meaning out of experience." He also points to the study of one of the neuroscientists namely Marcus Raichle. This study points to the fact that when we do busy works there are few regions of our brain (like hippocampus-a part of the brain responsible for organizing and memory) that could be suppressed or can be idle but interestingly they get hyper-activated when we are not focused on any act but are calm. It leads us to the conclusion that "it is good, after learning a new skill or studying, for example, to sit and do nothing for a while to let it 'sink' in." ("Busy doing nothing," in Psychologies, August 2015, p. 32-35. As Capuchins we are, sometimes, too active and on the move forgetting the value of inner calmness. Our faces could be one of the best indicators of our inner state and it is fine to remind ourselves to relax.
Our Creator took time-out:
Weekends, specifically, the Sundays for us could be a time-out possibility where we could attempt to find time for to be ourselves at least few hours. It could also start with a time for some of these activities: cleaning the room, disposing the unused things, a help to the fraternity, doing something artistically that we love, spend few minutes for a walk in a garden somewhere close-by, spending extra time with brothers sharing a personal experience, calling someone we care, and finally it could culminate in the time we spend quietly before the Presence of our Creator, who is said to be taking rest on the last day. This sort of silent moments could lead to great inspirations for our personal living and it could also impact others in many ways. If you experience more agitation and restlessness in your life due to your work-load, try the time-out. The fraternities that provide good space and time for silent meditation after the prayer are doing a great service. As initiated by our Father St. Francis & Mother Clare, purposeful time-out and contemplation will add further blessings to our Capuchin witness. As Br. Jaime Rey reflected earlier, there could be some silent moments when I just place myself in God's loving presence, gazing at his compassionate face and be there for few minutes allowing that 'silent presence' to influence me. It is a loving surrender and being there with the beyond who is also immanent and personal. It is interesting to note that lasting happiness is closely attached to serenity. During our ongoing formation courses we invite our formators and friars to try this 'silent presence' and remind them about 'time-out'.
The forthcoming CPO is going to inspire us on the "Grace of working," and our Capuchin fraternal activities and pastoral works will be very effective if we strengthen it with the power of silence.
If our Creator took time-out why can't we...?
Fra. Charles Alphonse Ofm Cap.,