This past week has been an extremely busy one for me and my team at CareNet. We were getting ready for our annual banquet and were expecting 560 people. Always, always, there are dozens of last minute additions, changes, cancellations, and table shifts. In the midst of all of this frenzy, I need, as the main speaker, to remain in a place of calm, open to the quiet promptings of the Holy Spirit.
It seemed easier this year.
First, we did a great job of organizing. We had a team of folks who showed up every week to help and a group of people who were dedicated to praying for us every day.
I was extremely intentional about taking time for prayer. I began to pray the liturgy of the hours the week before and found it to be a God send. (Literally, of course) In the midst of the hubbub at work I would slip into one of the private rooms with my ipad and read the prayers for that hour. Every day I would start the morning with the office and morning prayer. Every night I would end with Compline.
I went to Mass nearly every day. After, if it wasn't a work day, I would drive to Oakland beach and park my car, drinking coffee while soaking in the beauty of the day. I sat in silence, waiting for God to nudge me. I had a notebook and pencil and would jot ideas as they came to me. Eventually, these ideas came together to form my address. And while my team was nervous that on Monday I still didn't have my speech prepared for the event on Thursday, I was in a state of quiet expectation, knowing that God was going to give me the words.
On Tuesday,on the way home from the beach, I stopped at St. Timothy's and sat in the adoration chapel for awhile. Jesus calmed my soul.
On the night of the banquet, I was very very busy greeting over 500 folks, chatting with pastors and friends and supporters. I spent hours at the venue, checking on details, working with the AV guys, rearranging the table chart at the last minute to fix a mistake. It would have been so easy to get stressed or frazzled, especially because some of the folks around me were.
But I felt a sense of complete calm and peace in the midst of all of it. I knew what God had given me to say. I had practiced it several times and felt absolutely sure that I could do no better. Periodically I would duck into a tiny room off the lobby of the venue, shut the door and rest in his presence for a moment or two before heading back out.
And when I walked up to the stage to address the assembled guests, I had no nervousness at all. I opened my mouth and spoke the words God had given me and let the Holy Spirit take control. It was a wonderful night and a great experience to be in the midst of his embrace, his will, his love.
Prayer. No kidding.