On this Thanksgiving long weekend, I’m thankful for all of you wonderful readers. I’m always excited to hear from you and learn so much when any of you comment on a blog post, use my contact form, or speak to me in person. I first met reader Fjaere Harder Nussbaum when I led a retreat at St. Benedict’s Center in Schuyler, Nebraska. She has a beautiful experience to share — a great reminder of our retreat and an encouragement for all of us. Enjoy her guest post, and happy Thanksgiving!
Last year, our adult Sunday School class read Sacred Pauses, and discussed which specific pauses we might try. Though I had never understood religious icons, or even taken an interest in them, I was intrigued by the idea of an “everyday icon.”
I already practiced morning prayer and meditation, but struggled to keep those spiritual lessons with me throughout the day. I wondered if an icon could remind me of God’s directive from the morning, or at least keep me in more frequent conversation with God. I was especially struggling at that point with dreading and despising my work as a waitress. The shifts were so stressful and frenzied. I never knew if I would earn enough through tips. I felt an intense pressure to keep every customer perfectly satisfied.
I found a bracelet among my jewelry that was made from a bent table fork, and it became my everyday icon. It was unusual for me to wear a bracelet to work, so it caught my attention every time I felt something out of the ordinary on my wrist. It never failed to remind me why I had chosen to wear it.
At the slightest touch, amidst the crazy rush and frenzy to keep all patrons content, I remembered God. I heard His gentle and calm voice reassure me:
You are not alone–I am with you.
At the end of the day, you need no one’s favor but mine, and you have that right now.
S-l-o-w d-o-w-n and fill your cup
with my calmness and provision.
I will take care of all your needs,
in this world and the next.
My bracelet as an everyday icon became an extremely effective part of my waitressing uniform. It re-connected me to the nearness of God, otherwise so easily forgotten during the intensity of a restaurant rush. My sacred pause became the moment I felt the bracelet and momentarily stopped, remembered, and either listened or prayed. I was reminded that though I had forgotten about the nearness of God, God had never strayed from my side, The pauses served as a reminder of my foundation in Christ, of the strength and stamina available to me in Him, and the assurance that God would take care of my financial needs, no matter what I received in tips that night.
I am no longer waitressing, and have also stopped wearing that bracelet as my everyday icon. This reflection is perhaps God’s way of nudging me to re-instate that wonderful communion time into my life. Now at a different job, I reach into my pockets frequently to use my keys. Perhaps my new everyday icon will be a pocket charm of some sort.
I would highly encourage anyone to try this. Even if it helps me remember the presence of God and pray just one extra time, I am one step closer to the state in which I want to dwell: in constant loving communion with my Creator.
Do you have an everyday icon? How has it helped you to pause and draw near to God? Please leave a comment to encourage the rest of us.