Where I Spent Last Week, And What I Learned From It


I spent last week at a conference for church musicians. I want to blog about it this morning, but so far I have spent ten minutes sitting in front of the computer grasping for what to say. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. I can think of lots of things to say, but I can’t find the thread that ties them together. Some experiences have to be unpacked slowly over a long period of time.

WLP Instrumental showcase

It was a wonderful week, spent with wonderful people, making wonderful music and gleaning inspiration and insight. At the end of the week, Msgr. Ray East urged us to think of the encounter with Christ we had had this week, and share it with others.

Well, here goes.

The last few years, I’ve spent most of my time and energy being Mommy and freelance magazine/fiction writer. But there’s always a little part of me that tugs on my sleeve, reminding me that I’m a musician, and begging me to carve out some time for writing music. I spent this week away from my children, focusing on being a liturgical musician and composer. I got to be part of several great musical events, singing and playing flute with really terrific people. I got to spend a week focused on writing music and texts for worship with people whose work I admire tremendously.


I had deep conversations with old friends and made new friends I can talk to as if we’ve always known each other. Being a morning person at a conference that didn’t get started until hours after I’m accustomed to rising, I had time in the mornings to spend a few minutes being still in the presence of God in the adoration room.

And at length, I realized the obvious: that writing sacred music grows out of one’s spiritual life. If your spiritual life consists of clinging to the rock face and just barely hanging on amid the crazies, well, you’re not exactly in a position to bear prodigious amounts of fruit, are you?

For years, I’ve clung to the idea that you do what you can, and a great deal of a mother-of-littles’ prayer time consists of prayer by service. You know: doing dishes and brushing teeth and folding laundry equals my spiritual work.

I still think that’s valid, but my soul is longing for more. I don’t have the solution worked out yet, but I know I’m going to have to make time for contemplation. I’ve been trying for the last several months, but it’s scattered and haphazard. Now it’s time to get real.

You’re all busy people. Feed me. How do you find time for silence and stillness to nurture your relationship with Jesus in the midst of the crazies?

5 thoughts on “Where I Spent Last Week, And What I Learned From It

  1. When I had kids at home, I would schedule a “Colleen Day” every 4 to 6 weeks. Often would only be half a day. And pray and read the bible or a book on prayer and spirituality. Kind of a retreat day. I would do this either on a school day or when my hubby could watch the kids.
    On a daily basis – I would try to get 2 half hour periods of silence a day. Usually before work and after everyone went to bed at night. But I am a night person so that worked. You are a morning person but do a lot of your writing in the morning? Can you get up 20 minutes earlier? Or stay up 20 minutes later?
    And I said the Jesus Prayer a LOT – a shortened version – Jesus, have mercy. Over and over all day. I still do that. It is not silent prayer but it helps keep me centered on Jesus and brings me peace.
    Establishing a new habit helps in finding that silent time. And then just realize that some days it wont happen. Which I am sure you know that already.

    • The danger is in giving in to the “some days it won’t happen” for piddly reasons. As I’m sure you know too. 🙂

      On Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 10:42 PM, So much to say, so little time wrote:


  2. I love this: “And at length, I realized the obvious: that writing sacred music grows out of one’s spiritual life. ” Love the photos, too.

    My pray grows out of living with Jesus on my mind, then my heart eventually gets involved and I have moments, then it’s back to thinking. I mess up a lot so that gets me to thinking and repenting, more inner dialogue. Sometimes it feels like I’m talking to myself, but that’s okay too because God dwells deep down in there and I’m working on forever.

    • And sometimes you just have to shut up and listen, right? Even when it seems like it’s dead silence. That’s what I learned from reading Merton. Although it resonated because I already knew it.

      On Sat, Jul 26, 2014 at 5:33 PM, So much to say, so little time wrote:


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