Pastoral Letter | May 18, 2018
Several years ago I was having a conversation with a colleague and he introduced me to the concept of the theology of leisure. I must admit that at first it sounded almost “new age”. But as the conversation continued he explained that the idea was about encountering God in the quiet calm, collected moments of leisure during the Summertime.
Bertrand Russel once wrote, “Organizing your leisure effectively is the highest level of civilization.” I understand procrastination. I even appreciate the need for spontaneity, but the truth is that we need to plan our leisure. We need to organize ourselves so that we give ourselves the gift of time away. Time to think. Time to pray. Time to enjoy creation. And time to enjoy the people that bless our lives with joy and laughter.
The theology of leisure is well founded in Scripture when the writer of the gospel of Matthew reflects on Jesus’ words, “Come unto me all that labour and are heavy laden and I will refresh you.” (Matthew 11:28). There are moments where we need to step back from the busyness and chaos of the world around us. It’s a time to refocus, reenergize and re-establish boundaries. It’s also a time to follow an anonymous author’s recommendation that, “In all of living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.” I would propose that there is something dangerous about coming to the point where we feel as if we are enduring life. Our life experience teaches us that pain, suffering and disappointment come quite naturally in life, but we need to be deliberate about finding hope, joy and love in our lives.
George Easton wrote, “What we do during our working hours determines what we have. What we do in our leisure hours determines what we are.” When I speak of the theology of leisure, I’m not talking about laziness or procrastination, but rather a deliberate and well planned intent to capture all that life has to offer. That is to discover moments of awe and wonder. Or as one author put it, “Once a year go someplace you’ve never been before.” Sometimes this can be true in the physical sense. We quite literally need to get up and go somewhere that is new and exciting. Sometimes it’s not where we go but who we go with that brings the moments of hope and laughter.
The theology of leisure includes the reality that each one of us is “meaning seeking people.” That is to say, that every moment needs meaning and purpose. It may be as simple as stopping to smell the flowers or lying in a hammock and staring up into a tree. Perhaps even walking along the beach and feeling the breeze on your face. In all things we are searching for the presence of God and the words of reassurance that we have been made for a purpose and that we are loved beyond imagination. So God needs you to be healthy, happy and in harmony within yourself before you can be any good to anyone else. It all starts with the theology of leisure which includes resting body, mind and spirit. And taking the time you need to refocus, reenergize and rejuvenate.
All of this comes down to a few very simple questions. Where will you go this summer? What will you do with your leisure time? Will you give yourself the opportunity to refocus, reenergize and rejuvenate your spirit?