The 7 Experiment – Reflections on Stress

The 7 Experiment if finally over.  If it wasn’t Lent, I’d be shouting all sorts of “All—ias,” but a loud “Thanks be to God” will have to suffice.  From food to clothing to possessions and media; through waste, spending, and finally stress, the last seven weeks have been a real opportunity for growth and theological reflection.   The over arching question that 7 has invited me to ask is “why?”

Why is it, that every time I fix the girls a snack, I have to grab a handful of whatever they’re having?
Why do I need seven long sleeved polo shirts, when I might wear two a year?Why am I convinced I need the next great gadget?
Why am I posting this on Facebook?
Why am I throwing away the last great gadget?
Why do my spending habits not reflect my stated goal of being a part of bring God’s Kingdom to earth?

And perhaps the most important question for me, Why did I go on blood pressure medication at age 33?

Jen has a very practical means for the releasing of stress – prayer.  What I appreciated about her model was that it wasn’t about rehearsing the list of crap that is weighing me down, that is to say, another opportunity to be stressed about it all, but rather she prayed the hours.  She engaged in the ancient prayers of the Church and allowed the words that have been used for generation upon generation to express the deeper concerns in heart.

Many Christians, even a lot of Episcopalians don’t know anything about the Daily Office or the Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families that are in the Book of Common Prayer.  They are a treasure trove of material that, when done with regularity and intentionality (and not as an added source of stress) can do wonders for the hurried and harried among us.  There are many resource out there to make the Daily Office accessible to the average lay person.  Phyllis Tickle’s three volume series “The Divine Hours” is a great place to start.  As is, the website of the Mission Saint Clare that offers a full service of Morning and Evening Prayer every day of the year.  They even have an app for Android, iOS, and eReaders.

All in all, I would highly recommend The 7 Experiment to anyone.  It is more than a self-help book.  It is a chance to think theologically about my place in the economic engine that is 21st century America.  If you engage the experiment, your life will be changed, and you might even come out the other side feeling closer to the Kingdom of God.