Benedict was quite precise about it all. Time was to be spent in
prayer, in sacred reading, in work and in community participation.
In other words, it was to be spent on listening to the Word, on
study, on making life better for others and on community building.
It was public as well as private; it was private as well as public.
It was balanced.
the invention of the light bulb, balance became a myth. Now human
beings could extend the day and deny the night. Now human beings
could break the natural rhythm of work and rest and sleep. Now human
beings could begin to destroy the framework of life and turn it
into one eternal day with, ironically, no time for family, no time
for reading, no time for prayer, no time for privacy, no time for
silence, no time for time.
--Joan Chittister, Wisdom Distilled From The Daily (San
Francisco: HarperCollins, 1990) 74-75.
We’re supposedly a most creative country. There are two poles
pulling at the modern concept of work. At one pole is the workaholic.
At the other pole sits the pseudo-contemplative. Workaholics work
because they have learned that what they do is really the only value
they have. Or they work because they want to avoid having to do
anything else in life, like family or prayer or living. Or they
work because they don’t really want to work at all. What they
really want is money, money, money. Pseudo-contemplatives, on the
other hand, want to spend their hours gazing into space or processing.
They spend every new year of life processing last year’s life.
Nobody ever tells them, “It’s over, you can go on now.”
Pseudo-contemplatives have missed the point entirely that Adam and
Eve were put in the garden … in order to till it and to keep
it, not to gaze at it. Not to live off of it. Not to lounge around
in it like pigs in mud. They were put there to co-create it. Somehow
or other in our Puritan heritage we got the idea that work is a
punishment for sin. Work is not a punishment for sin. Even in the
ideal world, a world in which there was no sin at all, before sin
entered the world, Genesis is very clear: God expected us to take
responsibility for the co-creation of the world. ...
Work is our gift to the world. It's really work that ties us to
the rest of humankind and binds us to the future. It's work that
saves us from total self-centeredness and leads to self-fulfillment
at the same time. It's work that makes it possible to give back
as much as we take from life....
we talk about everyday spirituality..., what I think we are really
talking about is the need to achieve some way of entering those
places of harmony where all the parts sing, where we hear the music
of the spheres and we engage God, that great luminous darkness that
is complete light and complete joy. We are looking for the way in
which to take the spiritual that we do not know and the corporal
that we know so well, and to bring them together.
the beginning of mankind, certainly from the beginning of Judeo-Christian
religion, there have been a number of ways of creating those little
interruptions in normal life, those places where we can engage the
mystery, those places of harmony and integration. A good Jew two
thousand years ago would have known that one of the ways of interrupting
life and meeting with the spiritual was the Sabbath. We used to
keep the Sabbath. We used to set it aside and say, "Here is
a time. Here is an interruption in one of the dimensions that informs
life in which we will stop, and we will honor the Spirit of God."
As a Christian we would take the host and say to ourselves, believing
it, "We're about to eat the body of our God." And taking
the chalice we would say, "We are about to drink the blood
of our God who dared come among us and assume flesh and blood in
order that that flesh and blood might spray out across all of human
history and enter each of us." We would honor the time before
that consumption and the hours after that consumption by an interruption
of all other habits. We would hallow the time around that event--the
Eucharist or the Mass or the Communion. That's what the Sabbath
was, and it had built around it time and place.
we are creatures of dimension, if we wish to integrate all of the
areas of experience into one place to meet the mystery, we must
interrupt the dimensions. We must carve out space within the dimensions
of time and place for that to happen. --Phyllis Tickle, "Everyday