In the past few weeks I’ve been doing an hour-by-hour audit of my time and the way I spend it. It’s an enlightening thing to do, and it’s shown me three things I need to wedge into my already full weekly schedule: a weekday Mass, some physical exercise and time for something inspiring such as a new good book or movie.
The Mass and exercise are fairly simple things to block out some time for; the third thing not so much. But it is important.
A well-lived human life is a creative endeavour, but too often don’t we feel that we’re simply just getting by ok with nothing much changing from year to year?
Is that when we’ve allowed ourselves to become uninspired, not ensuring that there is some healthy input each day and each week into our spirits and souls?
Even prayer doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I need to feed my prayer life and even my appreciation of the Mass with good reading or conversation, a few new songs to listen to, or a new guest at the dinner table.
One thing that strikes me about stories of the saints is how inventive they are, and how discontent to remain static. Look at the missionaries, the popes, the founders of religious orders who are saints.
Even St Therese in her cloistered convent sought endlessly to grow in love of God and the other nuns and all of humanity, and had a rich, busy, imaginative life as documented in her book, plays, letters and poems.
Her mother, St Zelie, was constantly helping the poor in her neighbourhood, receiving or making visits to family and friends, as well as caring for her children and supervising the young servants.
In a letter she wrote I found so lovely and human her plans for spring planting in the garden. She wanted new trellises full of flowers in time for the approaching visit of her sister-in-law’s family.
Servant of God Elizabeth Leseur was a married woman with no children and she kept extremely busy with travel, throwing dinner parties, establishing a charity, doing her own reading, study and writing, and helping her family.
So, yes, the saints were busy. Today’s saints are busy. But they were probably less likely to fill their days with a lot of thoughtless running about filled with a sense of their own indispensability, or unnecessary work fuelled by misguided motives or appetites.
Their busyness was inspired and guided – by the Holy Spirit and the best offerings of their society and culture. And in turn, they became sources of inspiration for others.
This is what I’m aiming for as well, more of the mindful, creative, inspired busyness, even in the routine things which have to be done.