Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Time Enough

I've blogged about busy-ness before and am fully aware that it is simply a part of our contemporary culture - but I don't like being busy. Part of me is drawn by the pull of eternal rest in the Triune Life, while the rest of me is frantically fragmented by the forces and realities of this world. And though I don't espouse dualistic philosophical language, I can certainly see why and how it developed out of the paradox of human existence.

I wonder sometimes how much of the busy-ness and fragmentation is actually part of this reality and how much is of my own making. That is yet to be determined...but my father-in-law posted something that really struck me on his blog the other day. He has been reading The Correspondence of Thomas Carlyle and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Volume 2, printed in 1888. And this is what Emerson said in one of his letters:

I had it fully in my heart to write at large leisure in noble mornings opened by prayer or readings from Plato or whomsoever else is dearest to the Morning Muse, a new chapter on Poetry, for which all readings, all studies, are but preparation; but now it is July, and my chapter is in rudest beginnings. Yet when I go out of doors in the summer night, and see how high the stars are, I am persueded that there is time enough for all that I must do; and the good world manifests very little impatience.

This idea that "there is time enough for all that I must do" struck me. And then I read this from Henri J. M. Nouwen the other day:

Often we're not as pressed for time as much as we feel we're pressed for time. I remember several years ago becoming so pressured by the demands of teaching at Yale that I took a prayer sabbatical to the Trappist monastery at Geneseo, New York. No teaching, lecturing, or counseling - just solitude and prayer.

The second day there, a group of students from Geneseo College walked in and asked, "Henri, can you give us a retreat?"

Of course at the monastery that was not my decision, but I said to the abbot, "I came here from the university to get away from that type of thing. These students have asked for five meditations, an enormous amount of work and preparation. I don't want to do it."

The abbot said, "You're going to do it."

"What do you mean? Why should I spend my sabbatical time preparing all those things?"

"Prepare?" he replied. "You've been a Christian for forty years and a priest for twenty, and a few high school students want to have a retreat. Why do you have to prepare? What those boys and girls want is to be a part of your life in God for a few days. If you pray half an hour in the morning, sing in our choir for an hour, and do your spiritual reading, you will have so much to say you could give ten retreats."

The question, you see, is not to prepare but to live in a state of ongoing preparedness so that, when someone who is drowning in the world comes into your world, you are ready to reach out and help. It may be four o'clock, six o'clock, or nine o'clock. One time you call it preaching, the next time teaching, then counseling, or later administration. But let them be part of your life in God - that's ministering.

~ From "Time Enough to Minister" in Leadership (Spring, 1982)

Time is an issue of control for me...but I'm learning to let go and to let others be a part of my life in God. Until next time - Blessings in Christ ~ RLS

1 comment:

David A. Todd said...

Good post, Richard. Glad to have provided a springboard of sorts.