“The place you are called to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” – Frederick Buechner
They say that we are inclined to teach the things that we most need to learn ourselves. And it is with that humour and humility that I write this little message, to remind us, amid the ever increasingly hectic pace of life, that our importance is not measured by how busy we are, by a list of things that we’ve accomplished, how many emails we get, or how little time we have to linger and chat. As Trappist Monk Thomas Merton says,
“There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence, and that is activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of this innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too any demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone and everything is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace, because it kills the root of the inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.“
It is, of course, a balance.
There are urgent crisises in the world, and the full force of our passion and commitment are needed in the pursuit of a more just and sustainable world. But this is work for the long-haul, and so we desperately need to be engaging in it with that mind-set. Talking about this subject in his autobiography, educator/activist Myles Horton says, “I had to turn my anger into a slow burning fire, instead of a consuming fire. You don’t want the fire to go out – you never let it go out – and if it ever gets weak, you stoke it, but you don’t want it to burn you up.”
It reminds me why many religious traditions encourage a day of rest (or ‘sabbath’). Finding this balance is a spiritual challenge. It’s a ongoing weighing of priorities, and checking in on your mind/body/soul’s well being. And it will come in seasons, sometimes allowing you the capacity to take more on, and sometimes necessitating that you slow down, reminding you to find joy, or take care of your physical body. This is a reminder to me as much as to you: busyness does not equal importance. There is work to be done, and it’s value is amplified by the extent to which we are able to enjoy the life that our work nourishes. Take the time.
Nov 25th Dinner with The Common Ground Project
Our November dinner is a collaborative event with the Vancouver team of the Common Ground Project, a youth engagement initiative of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women. The evening will run a little longer than usual (from 5:30-8:00pm), and will feature spoken word performances by a diverse group of young folks, talking about the world they want to create for future generation. You can RSVP here.