Pope Emeritus Benedict once said, â€œWe live in a society in which it seems that every space, every moment must be â€˜filledâ€™ with initiatives, activity, sound; often there is not even time to listen and dialogue â€¦ Let us not be afraid to be silent outside and inside ourselves, so that we are able not only to perceive Godâ€™s voice, but also the voice of the person next to us, the voices of others,â€Â (quote source).
The Church fathers, St. Benedict in particular, wrote about the need forÂ Otium SanctumÂ 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.
I’m on a bit of a health journey,Â and I have a health coach who’s journeying alongside me. Earlier this weekÂ I battled some intense emotions that in the past hadÂ me reaching for food. See, I tend to medicate my problems with food, hence the need for a health coach. To help me plow through those emotions without doing something stupid toÂ torpedo my progress, my coachÂ asked, “How would you normally ‘treat’ yourself?” My response was, “Wine and cheese!” Now here I thoughtÂ she would suggest I treat myself toÂ a bit of both, but she responded with, “Drink some water and get busy with an activity.” Accountability for the win. She continued on and suggested I treat myself to something relaxing.
Relaxing … holy leisure … doing something which you are in no way compelled to do that brings you great pleasure.
My daughter hadÂ religious ed class that same evening near oneÂ of the worldâ€™s largest collections of flowering crabapple trees. Yep, right here in Des Moines. Washington, D.C. has cherry blossoms, we have crabapples! Just so happens the trees are now in full bloom. So in search of some holy leisure time, after dropping off Lucy, I headed over to theÂ Arie Den BoerÂ ArboretumÂ at the Des Moines Water Works Park and just sat in the middle of 1,200 crabappleÂ trees in full bloom.
The smell was glorious. The intense colors of the flowersÂ was a foretaste of Heaven, I’m sure. The smiles on the people gathered in the park for picnics and pictures were contagious.Â Holy leisure.Â It was the exact reset button I needed to rest, to enjoy beauty, and experienceÂ peace.
Where are you finding holy leisure these days?
P.S., I’m so excited about all the tips I’m learning through my online photo school, and I want to shareÂ one more photo. I forgot to mention that having my camera in hand also playedÂ into that holy leisure dynamic!