The above quote has become quite the guide for me. My spiritual director shared the quote with me during a discernment session. The words woke me up. In the depths of the pandemic “essential” was often about health and safety. We had to release some of our favorite non-essentials. Yet, letting go of non-essentials seemed to be more difficult.
Dr. James Finley, a Clinical Psychologist and Spiritual guide offered the words in a workshop several years ago. I find them to be spot on for our behavior. Distractions and interruptions are the way of modern life. Whatever grabs our attention on the way into work, in our inbox, upon entering the church, on our social media feed suddenly becomes the most urgent item in our lives. At every waking moment something or someone is trying to grab our attention. Generally, they win. That which is unessential is very good at looking important and making us believe they make us important.
“That which is essential only comes to us by invitation.” We must intentionally invite the essential in. The Divine, love, compassion, grace, neighborliness is always waiting for us to invite them more fully into our living. God offered this divine invitation beginning in creation. Moses set this invitation before the people when he says in Deuteronomy 30: 15, “I have set before you today life and death, adversity and prosperity.” When we accept this invitation as a priority in our living, we are not guaranteed wealth and happiness. We are guaranteed the Shalom and peace we find in relation with God.
When we are consumed by the unessential’s in life we often experience life as “an existence which lacks joy, well-being, security and abundance. A life without Shalom, peace, without love is spent in constant motion and pursuing gods which do not bring life.” Every day we have an opportunity to respond to this invitation of God’s love. (Dr. Walter Brueggemann “Texts for Preaching.”
Modern life is frantic and fast. We need guidance and light to help us discern where to place our energies in seeking shalom and life. Every day we can do so. Jesus speaks of this very shalom when he calms the disciples with the word in John, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14: 27)
May the invitation of shalom be yours.