Wasting Time and Holy Leisure

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Pope Francis greets families gathered for the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Families, October 26. Reuters photo via Vatican Radio.

The Church fathers, St. Benedict in particular, wrote about the need for Otium Sanctum or Holy Leisure. It refers to an ability to rest and take time to enjoy beauty, to be at peace through the activities of the day, to pace ourselves.

Or, in other words, as Pope Francis might say, simply wasting time. During a recent meeting with members of the Pontifical Council for the Family. Pope Francis posed the following:

“And tell me, do you play with your children? Do you waste time with your children?’ … The free gift of a parent’s time is so important.”

Do you waste time with your children? What does that look like in your home? Do we, collectively, even know how to waste time with one another? I’ve heard some say that achieving a healthy work-life balance became a myth with the invention of the light bulb. No longer “forced” to live by the natural rhythms of day and night, the light bulb effectively allowed us to eliminate the darkness and live an eternal day.

Pope Benedict once said, “We live in a society in which it seems that every space, every moment must be ‘filled’ with initiatives, activity, sound; often there is not even time to listen and dialogue … Let us not be afraid to be silent outside and inside ourselves, so that we are able not only to perceive God’s voice, but also the voice of the person next to us, the voices of others,” (quote source).

The Rule of St. Benedict calls for life to be ordered in prayer, study, work, and sleep.  Or as we read in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.”

I’ve greatly pondered this concept — balance — for the better part of a year. How can I strive to incorporate an order, a “rule” of sorts, to our daily routine here at Das Schmidt Haus? A routine that naturally, organically, involves prayer, work, rest, and play into our daily routine.

All this pondering is prompting me to kick off a new series here, if only to keep myself accountable for staying alert and awake for all the moments in our daily lives where I can simply waste time with my husband, kids, extended family members, and friends. The series, which I’m calling “Pray, Work, Rest & Play,” will simply share ideas for cultivating rhythm, living the liturgy, quieting ourselves to ponder and listen to God and those He has placed along our path, engaging in meaningful work and being in service to others, finding opportunities for holy leisure, celebrating the sacraments, and on and on.

Pray, Work, Rest, and Play … 

I’m looking forward to sharing more and hope you’ll feel comfortable sharing your Pray, Work, Rest & Play ideas with me in return! Stick around. I’ll post my inaugural PWRP post later in the week!

3 comments to Wasting Time and Holy Leisure

  • I didn’t even read your post, only the title and the opening lines, before my conscience smote me and sent me downstairs to work a puzzle and build a block tower for the toddler to knock down. I must do more of this. Looking forward to your series.

  • This topic has been on my heart as well. Now that we have settled into a routine with the school year/daycare child’s schedule I am trying to make time each afternoon to just PLAY with my kids. I often get such tunnel vision toward the things that need/should be done that I forget to just take time to BE with my kids. But when I do remember, it feel so great and so right. Those are the times that memories are made. Thanks for helping me get back on track too. Looking forward to more ideas!

  • Grandama

    My children are 30 and 37 now and I STILL “waste” time with them. They both live in other areas of the east. One a couple house away and the other a couple states away. I skype and am on the phone with them every day just talking about “stuff” – some important, some funny, some serious, some advice (which goes both ways – from and to me). I know they are checking to be sure I’m OK and I love that. I call them too to make sure they are OK. I live by myself and sometimes it’s not “convenient” when they call but I LOVE that they do! It does my heart so much good. I love to share the silly things my grandson says, I love to hear how college is going, we share advice about frustrations and cooking. They both have their very different personalities and interests so it gives me a variety of topics to talk about during the day. I have ALWAYS told them – very seriously – they can call me ANYTIME day or night (I want to be there for them).

    Those of us in my age group (around 70) MUST realize we are still teaching our children HOW – to be “single again”, to be past 40, to be involved in church, to understand and be charitable with others, to be a grandparent, and how to be OK by yourself – should they ever need that too.

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