Monk in the World Guest Post: Jean Wise

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission for the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Jean Wise’s reflection entitled Living With the Tension of Routines and Adventures.

Paradox. Deep within me live two longings that I used to believe contradicted each other. I assumed you thrived more within the blessings of routines or within the advantages of adventures. One or another, not both, worked better for me, so I thought.

“You can’t enjoy both,” lying voices whispered to my heart

I am learning now to hold the predictable and the impulsive times equally, knowing they both nourish my spirit. I enjoy and am grateful for routine and adventure. Both enrich my journey and bring gifts to my heart. And I acknowledge often while I am in the midst of one, I crave the other.

Routines offer me a sense of control, freedom and a way to manage my time. To be honest, sometimes I just don’t want to make more decisions and should think through everything. I let the pattern of the day guide me. This type of freedom relaxes and releases built-up anxiety.

Routines help me intentionally create time with God in a regular uninterrupted fashion. I know when I hem my days – the beginning and the ending – in prayer and time with him – I feels his presence more throughout the day.

Routines bring a framework into my life. I love the sense of accomplishment by checking off items from my daily to-do list and tackling bigger projects, like writing books, that God has placed in my heart. A regular schedule provides time, space, and support to getting things done. A predictable system keeps me on track.

Routines help me stay with positive self-care habits.  I keep up my fitness challenges and eat less unhealthy snacks when at home and in the flow of the customary cycles. The practices of healthy habits thrive with routines.

I know what to expect when living in routines. The comfort of knowing the order of my work day, the sequence of our regular worship service, and the familiarity of rhythms of each day. I am content and joyful in the cyclical beat of life.

But then I get restless with too much routine.  Boredom leads to laziness and discontent and become too constrictive in its predictability of the same old grind. I hunger for adventure.

When traveling, learning something new, and stepping out of my comfort zone, my normal daily point of view widens. I pay attention to the details in life and in nature. I am awake. I am alive.

Adventure produces creativity within me. Routine helps me get things done and out of the way, allowing for time and space for new ideas to emerge. Creativity blossoms in the wild and innovative garden of the open territory of the unknown, strange, and new. I discover, explore, and flourish in the sweeping ranges of spontaneity and novel undertakings.

Stepping out of routine I find refreshing renewal. I leave the old patterns behind and let go of the known framework is like sipping on cool, restoring water. I dive in and shower in enlivening waterfalls of inspiration.

I observe more when on an adventure. My senses heighten. My mouth swirls with new tastes.  I sleep in different beds and stretch myself in different time zones. My mind bursts with history lessons and exploring places I’ve never been before. I am grounded with others from the past and dreamers of the future. I am part of a whole – the network of humans across centuries.

My spirit flourishes with both routine and adventure. I no longer struggle with the idea that I should choose one or another, I willingly accept the gifts they both bring into my life. I appreciate and live mindfully no matter if surrounded by the predictable or the spontaneous.

I love coming home from a vacation and snuggle back into the warmth of routines. My spirit takes a risk to leave my safe harbor to learn, stretch, grow and live and returns home, rested and ready to work.

Routines keep me on automatic mode to stay healthy, attune to the important details of life. Adventures nourish my imagination and stirs my spirit that at times settles into sleepy hibernation. I soar with adventure; I sink deep roots in routine.

Routines keep me on a path that may evolve to a rut if I am not careful.  Adventures wake up my soul and stretches me when I venture off the path occasionally.

Living with the contradiction of both routine and adventure, I feel whole. My soul quickens with excitement, not anxiety, in the energy of oscillating between both modes. And I am thankful for the gifts both bring.


Jean Wise is writer, speaker, and retreat leader. She is spiritual director, RN, and a Deacon, living in northwest Ohio. Her passion is to help others deepen their walk with God. She writes twice a week on her blog at: www.healthyspirituality.org and is the author of several books including Spiritual Retreats, a Guide to Slowing Down to be with God.

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