Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
We were finishing up our sixth meeting of our local dialogue with Fredericksburg United Methodist Church—six members of our parish and six of theirs—on Monday morning and someone was talking about how, when we were children, we would get in the car and just go for a ride on Sunday afternoon. If you are old enough you can
remember; if you aren’t, then you wouldn’t believe it if I told you.
We would just get in the car and go for a ride. Nowhere. It was considered relaxing, interesting, to see what was new out there and spend time with family just driving around, instead of playing cards or sitting at the table after dinner on Sunday afternoons. I remember when they finally invented air conditioning in cars (yes, that is right) and it became so much more enjoyable in the summer. I guess gas was really cheap.
For a parish that dreads the many hours they are stuck in traffic every day, this is an odd sort of concept. For people who use their cars to race from one commitment to another, always watching the clock, this will sound like lunacy. We called it leisure.
Leisure is one of those things that a culture must have to advance. It is the downtime when we can think up new ideas. It is the space in which relations can grow with time. It is also the time in which we make spiritual discoveries about God with prayer, and reflection about ourselves. Leisure is the most important thing, and probably the least available thing to all of us.
Lent is here… it is time, it is opportunity to carve out a little leisure for your life. Don’t confuse leisure with doing nothing. There are no “days off” in the
spiritual life. But it is an active “making room” in life for the kind of reflection we must have in order to grow.
Giving is another spiritual discipline that we often overlook. We, generally speaking, do not give as easily as we receive. And yet, if we are not giving people, we won’t appreciate what we have. I’m not necessarily talking about the annual Bishop’s Lenten Appeal, or our several collections for local charities—these are good things and we should be generous, if we are authentic. But the integrity of a Christian includes a spirit of giving. Gifts we receive are intended for others, but we have to make the time and place available in order to be givers, or we won’t give. Once again, it’s about leisure.
Look at this amazing picture below. 300+ people made a commitment to providing the leisure necessary to attend our Called and Gifted Workshop. Response has been amazing—thanks to you all. Out of it will come what, I believe, might constitute a new spirit and a new life for Saint Mary, rooted in the gifts we have receive, and the gifts we can give.
God bless you.