July 7, 2019

14TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

SACRED SAUNTERING AND HOLY LOLLYGAGGING
“Where did you go?”
“Out.”
“What did you do?”
“Nothing.”

There you have it: the cloud of suspicion that has hung over sauntering and lollygagging for years, and not just among the parents of teenagers. Little wonder. What use could a culture driven by time management experts have for aimless strolling and fooling around wasting time?

Of course, plans, schedules, and deadlines all have their times and places. But it’s time to cry foul when they become the criteria by which we define and judge the human spirit according to the two great commandments: “Be productive! Be useful!” Early Christian monastic desert dwellers tell the tale of a visitor scandalized to discover the great ascetic, St. Anthony of Egypt, at play with his disciples. St. Anthony pointed out that a bow will break if strung taut for too long. And so, he suggested, will we.

Sauntering and lollygagging to the rescue! Jesus, unburdened by weekly organizers with handy to-do-lists, did both. Although totally devoted to the staggering goal of redeeming a bent and broken world, he “wasted” time appreciating the gorgeous field anemones, watching what it took to bake bread or plant a field, hanging out with tax collectors, lepers, prostitutes – and Pharisees. And, because a great storyteller doesn’t start from scratch, he listened to tales (and gossip) about all sorts of ordinary things; a fight over an inheritance, someone’s prodigal child, a local widow pestering a judge into giving her what she wanted. All the while he was discovering, savoring, and cherishing the world as humans experience it.

We’ve all done some of that, haven’t we? Childless myself, I treasure the memory of holding a friend’s five-month-old in my lap while his mom cleaned house. He was going nowhere, and neither was I, so we just sat together watching sunbeams, laughing at the family dog, rearranging salt and pepper shakers, and drinking in the goodness of life. Another time, in early morning, I stood dumbstruck by an entire sky on fire as the sun rose through clouds while time went on strike. I have no idea what the second coming of Christ in clouds of glory will really look like, but I’ll never forget the preview. These are only two of many brief, unplanned, mini-vacations that have taught me about discovering, savoring, and cherishing my world in company with a child, or my God.

It’s summer. Do yourself a favor. Put away the day planners, schedules and to-do lists. Ignore the disapproving voices in your head. Take a vacation. “Vacation” comes from the Latin vacare, meaning to empty out, to be idle. Old spiritual writers spoke of vacare Deo, making space for God. It suggests just hanging out together rather than following a prepared prayer strategy. Forget the goal of getting through the Bible in a year and just go sauntering with God in the enchanting, instructive, transformative landscapes and stories of Scripture, with the Spirit in the lead. Go anytime. No planning required!

Find a spot you like? Just lollygag around in it for a while. Stay as long as you like – there’s no checkout time.

Sr. Genevieve Glen

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