My essay this week at Imaginative Conservative is on the contemplative life and is entitled, On Windows, Work and Wasting Time
I am just looking out the window.
That is all.
What am I looking at? A tree. A squirrel. A cardinal and a jay. I see the dog luxuriating in the morning sun. I see a leaf fall. Before too long my mind is in the state where I am thinking of nothing and am therefore open to everything. I am connected with those other living things in “a condition of complete simplicity costing not less than everything.”
The monks say prayer is “wasting time with God,” and St. Benedict says that prayer is “opus Dei”—God’s work. The word “liturgy” means “work of the laity,” so perhaps God’s best work is not all our busy activity for him, but what we might call wasting time with God.
Only a short time of looking out the window reminds me that I am not very good at wasting time. Immediately my busy mind turns to “more important things.” I am desperate to do something else, but force myself to stay and waste time at the window. Then I realize not only that I am addicted to my work, but why I am addicted. With a sad realization I see it is because my work is rewarding. I get strokes. People praise me for my work. I love the attention and low-level adoration. There is no praise and glory in looking out the window and wasting time. No wonder I do not want to do it.
Go here to read the full essay.
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