As a family we are only beginning to get back into something that resembles a routine. The summer holidays are great but routine is certainly not a feature! As our children have got older we seem to have become busier. The three girls have had summer jobs and our son has had football or hurling training or matches six days a week through the summer.
Now as the older two get packed for university the younger two are settling into school again. There is more structure to the week but the busyness is certainly still a feature.
We seem to run between work, school and after school activities. It has struck me that it is easy to get into a way of thinking – Tuesday we do Gaelic and singing, Wednesday we do guitar and fiddle, Thursday we do hurling, Sunday we do Mass. Yet none of these simply fit in a tidy slot in the week. Every commitment comes with responsibilities.
You may have discovered, like us, that if you get involved with the GAA then they want you body and soul.
Quite apart from training and matches, making sandwiches and organising lifts we have found ourselves involved in plenty of fundraising initiatives as well as my new role promoting Irish language and culture in our own club.
My son is committed to the reality that if he is going to play football and hurling to the best of his ability then that has implications for a healthy diet and ongoing physical fitness every day of the week – not just the day of a big match.
Similarly there is the realisation that music lessons have to be backed up by practice. The reality is that our commitments only make sense if we take them seriously and give them the time and space that they need in our lives.
This is particularly true of our faith. The Eucharist we celebrate on Sunday finds its deepest meaning in the lives we live every day. In the Eucharist there are echoes of the meals eaten round the kitchen table, the conversations and stories shared, the disputes resolved, the values lived out, the relationships nurtured and the memories created, the communion of being together.
We all live such busy and complicated lives that it is easy for faith to become “Sunday we do Mass”. Yet we all know that won’t sustain us and so the challenge is to look at our lives and think about how and where we are giving time to God and to each other. Where are we creating time for prayer and reflection, for quiet time just to be, instead of running round?
Without this, it is easy to lose the sense of where God is present and active in our days.
So maybe something to do this week would be to sit down as a family and look at how you spend your time. Is there time for you to be together as a family? Do you have a routine of prayer – perhaps before dinner or at the end of the day or even a prayer to begin the day? Is there time for conversation – without the TV or the mobile phones? Are you over-scheduled, committed to too many things, leaving you all worn out and stressed? Is there time for play, laughter, relaxing together?
It is not about time-tabling God in but about creating the space to notice God’s presence.
Our commitments bring responsibilities which can shape our days and direct our lives.
It is not always easy. In our house I know it is a constant balancing act.