“What in this life if full of care we have no time to stand and stare.”
I remember learning these verses as a child at school and they have stayed with me ever since. It’s only when we take the time to stand and stare that we appreciate the great beauty and wonder of God’s creation. One of the most beautiful experiences I have enjoyed in recent years was in Cyprus when we sat on a lonely stretch of beach watching the sun go down. The sky was breathtakingly beautiful. Another was in Galilee when I needed to go to the bathroom around 5.00 a.m. and on the way back to bed looked out of the window to see the sun coming up over the Sea of Galilee; it was magnificent.
We live in a busy world. There’s never seems enough hours in a day or days in a week to do all the many things we want. I’m convinced that the numbers of days between each Christmas diminish as the years increase. As a child I always thought Christmas would never, ever come. Now, no sooner than the cards and decorations come down than they seem to be going up again.
A few years ago we were being told that the hours of a normal working week would become less and that workers would inevitably have more leisure. Documents and reports were prepared to discus this situation and to give guidance on how this new found leisure could be spent. It was suggested that in the future world of work job-sharing would become the norm and that we would work for only three days a week. When I was at college the future of the world of work featured as a subject for a Pastoral Studies Dissertation discussing employment, unemployment, the work ethic and increasing amounts of leisure time. What ever happened? Now it seems workers in this country are expected to work longer hours with shorter annual and statutory holidays than anywhere else in the western world.
With all this ‘busyness’ the temptation is to cut short the time we should be spending with God: the time we spend in saying our prayers, in reading and studying our bibles and other religious works, in the time we spend preparing to make our Communion or in giving thanks after receiving Communion, and in attending Mass on Sundays, on Holy Days of Obligation and during the week. In our services we are often so busy saying or singing things that we rarely have any time of silent contemplation. Yet if we want to hear God speaking to us it is in “the small quiet voice of calm” that we can do so.
Perhaps we should consider allotting say five/ten minutes every day for quiet reflection and meditation. One of the things we need to consider is that some of the busiest, most productive people spend time in quiet reflection every single day. Paradoxically they find in their busy, full lives that they can only achieve their great productivity if they have their daily time of prayer and reflection. Certainly this has been the case with many of our most illustrious saints.