Masyn Evans-Clements is a third-year seminary student at Logsdon Seminary and the Minister for Youth and Outreach at The Church at Highland Park in Austin, TX. She and her husband, Brandon, live happily with their dog, Biscuit, and cat, Archie.
Interview with Rev. Evans-Clements
1. Do you have a daily practice or routine to help you focus, stay centered, and live meaningfully throughout the day?
Routines are definitely not in their prime as I write this from my kitchen table during a pandemic. Before COVID-19, I would sit at the kitchen table before I left for work and journal; I love to buy beautiful, ornate journals and write in them each day and process what’s happening in my life through them. It’s a little hard to do that now because my work space and my living space are the same, but I still try to do it as often as I can.
2. How long have you utilized a daily practice?
While my daily practices have changed a lot during the years, I began getting into the habit when I was in my final years of college. I noticed I was really stressed, and while I’m a self-proclaimed mental processor, I really struggled to clearly express how I was dealing with day to day life. It became abundantly clear in college I needed a regular practice to stay centered, and it really helped!
3. Do you have an ideal time and place for your routine?
Nowadays, I like to do my journaling in the morning on the porch. Because of Covid, I needed a space that was different from the place I worked, and I never work on our beautiful porch because I am trying to keep it a sacred space for me to relax and unwind. So if there aren’t too many bugs, I’ll usually journal out there.
4. What are the elements of your routine (e.g., prayer, silence, being still, Bible or other reading, meditation, reflection)?
Usually I grab a cup of coffee (or my amazing husband makes me one of his signature cappuccinos) and sit down on the porch. I’ll start with a few moments to just breath and say a mantra. It is different every day, but it might be something like– (Inhale)You are uniquely and wonderfully made, (exhale) and worthy of love. Once I feel calm and comfortable, I’ll think for a minute or two about what I want to write (if I’m not sure already), and I’ll begin! I might write about my day, or a prayer I thought of, anything!
5. During each day, do you have “mini” versions of a practice or reminder techniques when the day goes wrong or you get distracted to help you re-focus?
Before Covid, if I was having trouble focusing at work, I would stand up from my desk and make myself some tea or walk around a bit. I can still do a bit of that at home, but now I find it more important to actually leave the space I’m stressed in, so I’ll walk outside with my dog or sit on the porch for just a little while. I might employ some of those breathing techniques with the mantra, but I can’t say I’ve done that in a while.
6. Do you periodically “audit” your daily routine for its effectiveness and make changes to it?
I don’t typically consciously do this, but there have been several times I knew I needed to change it up because it just wasn’t bringing me the same calmness, relaxation, or intentionality that it once did. For example, I used to read in the mornings, but once I started seminary and I was reading all day, my morning reading ceased to feel like personal time, more like school time. So I stopped and thought of something else I might be able to do.
7. In addition to a daily routine, do you have more extended seasonal routines or personal retreats (such as during Advent, Lent, the New Year)?
I have to be honest, this is not something I really knew existed before the last year or so. That being said, I think I would really love to be able to do that! When I think of a personal retreat in an attempt to reach centeredness or calmness, I think I would head to the mountains in the summer with my husband. There’s something about that cool mountain breeze on a hot day and the beautiful scenery that makes you connect with God in a different way (especially for this West Texas desert gal)!
Masyn is a good friend and a minister at our church. As a new minister and with one final year of seminary ahead of her, Masyn is mature spiritually and as a leader beyond her young age. She is a wonderful addition to our church and has gone the extra mile in helping, leading, and loving us during this challenging pandemic season. Masyn’s daily routine insights are instructive. Her meditative, journal approach, and special place-based routines and example are excellent food for thought for anyone developing or reinvigorating a daily routine. Masyn’s inclusion of coffee and her faithful dog are special touches that we have in common.