Be at leisure - and know that I am God.
Leisure: The Basis of Culture
Joseph Pieper was a German Catholic philosopher who lived from 1904-1997. He wrote a philosophy book on leisure back in 1948. Gerald Malsbary, one of my professors in seminary, translated it anew in 1998. You can find the book at Ignatius Press
. You could also find it at Amazon and Goodreads.
I read the book between December 2006 and January 2007. So, I don't remember that much about it, but the title has stuck with me ever since. Here's the description given at Ignatius Press:
"One of the most important philosophy titles published in the twentieth century, Josef Pieper's
Leisure, the Basis of Culture
is more significant, even more crucial, today than it was when it first appeared more than fifty years ago. This edition also includes his work
The Philosophical Act
. Leisure is an attitude of the mind and a condition of the soul that fosters a capacity to perceive the reality of the world. Pieper shows that the Greeks and medieval Europeans, understood the great value and importance of leisure. He also points out that religion can be born only in leisure — a leisure that allows time for the contemplation of the nature of God. Leisure has been, and always will be, the first foundation of any culture.
"Pieper maintains that our bourgeois world of total labor has vanquished leisure, and issues a startling warning: Unless we regain the art of silence and insight, the ability for non-activity, unless we substitute true leisure for our hectic amusements, we will destroy our culture — and ourselves."
In our parish, we have a couple villages with "Leisure" in their name. I wonder if we have a right understanding of leisure. It isn't doing nothing. It isn't doing something all the time. At the beginning of Pieper's book, he offers a different translation of Psalm 46:10 which is quoted above. I remember the more standard translation, "Be still, and know that I am God." It's one of my favorite verses in the Bible. True leisure allows us to see reality. God is the ultimate reality.
I wrote this yesterday and scheduled it to be sent today, my day off. This is the day when I engage in some leisure activities, usually with my siblings. But I also like to run early in the morning.
On Tuesday, I ran in the Ocean Running Club 5K race at Winding River Park. I ran harder than last Tuesday with an average heart rate of 187. Strangely, this race was a leisurely activity for me. I was pleasantly surprised by how well I felt while running fast at 7:30 per mile in 75 degree heat and 95% humidity. The 5th place guy was on my tail for the whole race until the end when I sprinted at full speed. Before and after the race, I talked with other runners about running. Many of us were like little children, delighted to be in a race. I marvel at God's creation. I was awestruck by the variety of runners.
Running is one leisure activity that helps me see reality more clearly.
God love you,
Fr. Jim O'Neill
on Thursday, July 15 at 9:00AM