We are living in a time of great mental, emotional, and physical stress. In turn, taking care of ourselves, or allowing God to take care of us, is more important than ever before. For many, the words peacefulness, joy, and goodness—all fruits of the Holy Spirit—elicit a sort of desirable calmness. Fortunately, experiencing these fruits through leisure is possible. However, not all opportunities are created equal. What you do for leisure may make all the difference in helping you find what you are seeking.
Editorial Note: This post is part of our #FaithAndScience series exploring the relationship between science and religion.
The fact that nature is “red in tooth and claw,” to borrow a famous line from Tennyson, can create an apparent conflict between evolution and Divine Providence. The seemingly arbitrary death and destruction that is inherent in the evolutionary process can be hard to reconcile with a providential loving God. Even a cursory glance at the evolutionary timeline indicates that our current state has been shaped by numerous violent environmental upheavals: floods, meteor impacts, volcanic eruptions, plagues, famines, etc. In particular, the natural evils that humanity has dealt with during the past 300,000 years of our collective existence raise many difficult existential questions.
In my office, right next to where I hang my coat, there is a phrase written on the wall: “Think Eternally, Act Hourly.” This is an adaptation of a common business phrase often used in international marketing. I have it strategically placed so I will see it every morning, as a needed reminder. The first part of the phrase renews my commitment to seek the Kingdom first. That’s the easy part. I say to God, “I commit myself to your eternal will.” The second part is always the challenge. It is as if God replies to me, “That’s fine, I’m happy for your commitment. In the next 60 minutes, you’re going to have an opportunity to show me if you really believe that.” Suddenly, the commitment is real, not theoretical, and it is going to cost me something right now, whether or not I am ready.
As a perfectionist, I often seek out God in the wrong places; I pursue perfection instead of holiness. I await his revelation in the flawless, impeccable, perfect moments. But my penchant for the ideal means that I often keep God sequestered to the sacred precincts of some faraway sanctuary instead of inviting him into the moments of my life when I most need him: the less-than-perfect moments. Recently, I learned a very messy lesson about the grace of God in the chaos of life when I accidentally unleashed a deluge of foam into the hallways of the Catholic high school where I teach.