Our Guest Blogger is the Rev. Amy Zalk Larson, Campus Pastor at Luther College shares some reflections from her Sabbatical.


Reflections from a sabbatical by Amy Zalk Larson, Campus Pastor, Luther
by Amy Zalk Larson, Campus Pastor, Luther College
Does your life feel crazy busy?
Is there constant
pressure to always be on, always available, always on the go?
Does your sense of
self-worth come from how much you get done in a day?
Ever wonder if you’re squandering your life
on frantic activity rather than freely offering yourself for the sake of the
Everywhere we turn we can find advice, apps, time management strategies and tools that promise to
advice, apps, time management strategies and tools that promise to
help us manage it all. Tackling busyness becomes something else we SHOULD do.
We need something much deeper than advice.
We need to know that:
 God is with us right in the midst of our busy lives.
God has not abandoned
us to frantic activity and constant demands.
God is God and we don’t have to be!
God in Christ Jesus
has come to be among us and still is with us by the power of the Holy Spirit.
God is with us.
Our busy days aren’t just full of things we feel we have to get done
before we can pray- THEY ARE ALSO FULL OF GOD.
God comes to us in the stuff of everyday life inviting us to see and
know that God is there, inviting us to rely upon God rather than ourselves.
BREATHE: God gives us
the gift of the life and is as close to us as our breath. Bringing our
attention to our breathing can help us to become aware of the Spirit’s presence in our lives.
Romans 8:26: Likewise
the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we
ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for
words. (the biblical word for spirit is the same as the word for breath!)
A Practice: Offer a Breath Prayer like “My God…My All.”  Take a deep cleansing breath. As you breathe
in, say the first few words: “My God”, then as you breathe out, say the last
few words: “My All”. Repeat over and over.
SAVOR: God is present
in every good gift of our life. Savoring our joys can help us to experience the
constant presence of Divine Love.
Psalm 34:8: O taste and
see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in him.
A Practice: Notice “where am I seeing God today?” Savor what
you see! Tell others; ask what they see.
YEARN: God is also
present when we yearn for things to be different. The
Holy One yearns for us and works through our longings to call us out of the
busyness of trying to fulfill or ignore our desires.
Psalm 42:1: As s a
deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.
A Practice: Take a close look at a longing. Is there a
longing beneath the longing? Is there an invitation there? Where do you notice the presence of God in the longing?
STRETCH: When we
desire a change or need to change, we often have a sense that the change “will be a stretch” and will bring us outside our comfort zone. This can remind us to
This can remind us to
stretch out to God with open hands, rather than forcing change.
Psalm 143:6: I stretch
out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.
Call to mind a desire and do some simple stretches as a way
to open up to God and to what God provides.
YIELD: If we
overstretch for what we seek we become willful rather than willing participants
in what God is doing. When we feel a sense of driven anxiety, it can remind us to yield and rest in the fullness of God.
Luke 1:38: Here I am,
the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.
A Practice: Experience the rhythm of stretching and
yielding. Stretch: Reach your arms up above your head, lift your head to look
at the sky, pause. Yield: Bend at the waist and let your upper body, head, and
arms hang; pause and rest.
EMPTY: Life provides
all sorts of opportunities to see that we are not in control, that we are not
God. These can remind us to let go and empty ourselves as Jesus did.
Philippians 2: 5-7:
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he
was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to
be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born
in human likeness.
A Practice: Centering Prayer
Sit and allow your heart to open to God.
When thoughts come to your mind, and they will, let
them go and return simple openness. Not because thinking is bad but because you are practicing letting go and resting in God.
You repeat a short word or phrase, known as a
“sacred word” such as: “abba”, “peace”, or “be still” to help you let go of the
to help you let go of the thought.
WELCOME: Rather than
reacting to negative experiences and emotions with a fight, flight or freeze
reaction, we can stay with the difficult sensations and experience God’s
presence in the midst of them.
Romans 5: 3-5: And not
only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering
produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character
produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has
been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
A Practice: Welcoming Prayer
Notice where in your body you experience a
painful emotion or sensation.
Name the sensation without analyzing or interpreting it
Breathe. Imagine that your breath is Divine
Love’s tender caress of you moving over the painful places.
Let go of the emotion or sensation, trusting it to God.


Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Thanks for the post. I would like to share this. Could you fill in the missing word? We something much deeper than advice. Thanks!

  2. Glad it is helpful Suzanne, feel free to share. I apologize for the missing word, it should read We NEED something much deeper than advice. Amy


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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.




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