Helen worked for the American Friends Service Committee in Washington, DC. She engaged challenging political issues on Capitol Hill. Her work was draining, yet she was an energetic long-term activist of 25 years—a rarity.
Helen claims her vitality and stamina on the Hill stem from her daily hour of silent Quaker-style worship. Her daily dose of silence inoculates her from burnout. Many souls who take on draining service work recharge their batteries through prayer. If we can’t find constant renewal, where we recharge batteries, life force dwindles.
Prayer connects us with God’s love so we can reflect it in a stable, reliable way. Through prayer, God’s love becomes the center of our lives and motivates all we do. Sometimes people think of contemplatives as people, who sit around, read the Bible, light votives, and gaze at their navels. But these surface stereotypes miss prayer’s essence.
Contemplatives make relationship with God their priority. They’re devoted to the God of love and work at putting their devotion into action. They take God seriously and have regular “heavy dates” with God.
When intimacy is established in a committed relationship time can pass when nothing at all is said—when there is no conversation. It is often during those times of snuggling or gazing into one another’s eyes when intimacy is most felt—emotions so deep that inadequate words become awkward drivel. The same is true of relationship with God in prayer.
That intimacy inoculates us from the harsh criticism and malice of others, which we are bound to encounter in service work. That intimacy injects the love of God into our veins, so that we can’t help but love ourselves, not in a self serving way, but for God’s sake. We love ourselves for God’s sake. Then out of that abundance we have the strength to share that love with others, no matter how it may be perceived or received.