The Serenity of Our Times

There is a violence that I’ve been guilty of.

To paraphrase Trappist monk Thomas Merton, it’s the violence of doing too much, trying to fill too many bottomless wells, sprinting from this to that, overwork, under-rest. It’s the violence of busy. Sixty years ago, Rev. Merton described it as the violence of our times.

Busy wreaks a quiet, awful harm. I’m not fully present: not fully listening, looking, understanding. I skim emails, arrive late and leave early, dismiss human beings who want time I don’t think I have.

I justify it because there are So Many Worthy Things that need my attention; I must check my email about this, while on a call about that. And my ego laps it all up since our society fiercely connotes busy with important. My busyness is a marker of my worth.

It’s not. In slower moments, we know that. But busyness robs us of that - of contemplation and a rich inner life; it severs our ties with the quiet wisdom waiting in us.

This is not a violence we are born with; the world instructs us in it. And we do not have to be docile students.

While we can’t always choose how our time is used, we are allowed to choose how we relate to our time. And choose to be with those who are equally intentional.

To say no more, to pause often, to gift ourselves time and space between this and that, is the hard work of making space for serene beauty. And wouldn’t it be terrific to contribute to the serenity of our times?

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