Do we give primacy to being over doing?
I’ve been thinking about this question a lot. For me, this summer has been quieter than usual. Yes, I’ve had office work to do, some meetings, and have been helping in parishes, but it’s been a far cry from the rat race of the academic year. In my current assignments as Spiritual Director of the Seminary and chaplain of La Salle Academy, my life is punctuated by the academic year. So it’s natural that summer would be a bit slower than usual, especially in Rhode Island where people flock to the beaches.
I was blessed to spend three weeks at Creighton University for a Spiritual Direction Seminar in June. I was able to take some vacation time at the end of July. I was even able to play a little more golf than I have played in previous years. Evenings were rather free, which is not the case during the academic year.
But I need to confess: At times I’ve struggled with guilt. There’s that voice in my head that says if I’m not “doing” something then I’m useless; that if I’m not staying busy all the time then I’m not being productive. I think about all the people I know in my life who constantly say how stressful and busy they are; some even seem to pride themselves on their busyness. Then that voice inside my head says, “You should be stressed and busy all the time too. If you’re not stressed and busy, then you must be lazy. Everyone is stressed and busy. It’s just the way your life should be.”
But I’ve started questioning this voice. I’ve started talking back to it. Really? Is life really supposed to be stressful and busy all the time? Is that what God wants my life to be? Am I really doing something wrong if I’m not stressed, or am I actually doing something right?
The truth is that we are human beings, not human doings. I’m grateful for the slower summer pace. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to focus more on prayer and spiritual reading. I think the Lord wants us to slow down. He wants us simply to be with him so that we can be present to life.
Even Jesus told his disciples to “come away and rest” (Mark 6:31) Truth is: it’s a lie that we must be busy and stressed all the time so that we can be productive members of society. I’ve found the contrary to be true: when I’m peaceful, when I work slowly, focusing on one thing at a time, I’m more productive, more focused, and more fulfilled.
So, I hope your summer has been blessed. Now I’m looking forward to having the seminary filled with 26 seminarians and to my daily interactions with nearly 1500 teenagers at La Salle. In a few weeks, I’m sure I’ll be longing for the summer pace once again!