This summer I set out to create moments of “leisure” for myself. I had it all planned out. I was determined to have leisure and have it to the fullest and in great abundance by scheduling after-work excursions to the park or pool, where I would sit and read a plethora of educational or theological books and journal about any deep and meaningful revelations I should have. I expected leisure time to simply occur during my week of vacation with my family in Michigan, where I thought, “With five unscheduled days, there should be no shortage of leisure to be had.” But while in Michigan I found myself getting frustrated as with each passing day activity kept increasing, books went unread, and other people were unceasingly present. Yet, when I returned home, I felt renewed and restored. Why? Because, as Ms. Clevenger eloquently defined it, leisure is “o the absence of activity,” but rather “the presence of a full, living, breathing connection to higher things.”
How can we achieve this connection to higher things? Well, we can’t. It is achieved for us, given to us by the people and things we love and that love us. For example, great literature gives to us a connection with the past and propels our minds to see the world with new eyes - this is leisure. In worship, God comes to serve us and gives us enrichment of body and soul - this is leisure. While vacationing in Michigan in the uninterrupted presence of my family, I was given quality time, an outpouring of love- this is leisure.
So, if leisure is not merely something we do for ourselves, but depends on our surroundings in life, than we must order our lives so as to make space to receive these gifts. We must surround ourselves with the people, books, and activities that elevate, enrich, and re-focus our lives. We must order our time, attention - and ultimately our love.
In an article written by Dr. Christopher Perrin, he writes:
“C. S. Lewis calls upon the rdo amori [ordering of love] to argue for a doctrine of objective value in which we give the appropriate love to every good thing we encounter—waterfalls are loved in one way, people in one way, and God in another. Jesus often signals an rdo amori, telling the rich, young ruler there is one thing he lacks (Matt. 19) and telling Martha that though she is busy about many things, Mary has chosen what is best: to converse with him rather than prepare dinner (Luke 10). When Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is, he responds that there are two: to love God with your whole heart and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22).”
Like Mary, we must choose what is best – to love and to be loved. And like Mary, our leisure, our order of love or priorities, may not make sense to others. Yet, we are “Sunday People,” whose lives are ordered around a day of rest, of receiving divine love - leisure if you will.