CATHEDRAL ARTS BLOG: NOTES FROM WITHIN
Summer is here. Some of us cannot wait for time away from the office, or we are on a long break from school and are learning to breathe again. But some of us might find it hard to rest even when we have a vacation if we love our work.
Some of my favorite moments at meetings at the Cathedral are when the Dean asks everyone how they are doing. In listening to a podcast at On Being with CEO coach Jerry Colonna last week, I learned the Dean’s question is a recommended tool for leaders. Quoting from Augustine and Parker Palmer, Colonna teaches how creativity and productivity connect to bringing ourselves to work. (On Being is one of eight podcasts for spiritual searchers recently recommended by the New York Times.)
Being at the Cathedral includes being part of work that regenerates. The work here, creative and otherwise, will never be done, while spiritual rest is a gift that comes with being part of a caring Christian community. The passion and rest in the other creative work of my life: painting, drawing, writing, and raising a family, informs my work at the Cathedral, and the reverse is also true.
Being fully present wherever you are is necessary for doing good work. And for good or for evil, artists, activists and ministers--people who are passionate about their work--often feel most at home while they are working. We often have to be reminded to take rest in spending time with friends, family, the earth, and God. Thomas Merton, In Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, offers sobering words for when we find ourselves becoming overwhelmed by our own zealotry.
Now, thanks to technology, work travels with us everywhere and, whether we are passionate about it or not, it is hard to ever call it done. When we do, email and ads about what else we must do, buy, think, and love keeps coming. Even so, can we look at our work and feel, as God did on the seventh day, that it is enough and that “it is good”?
Believing that our work is good is regenerative--it feels like a completed music or floral arrangement, someone we care for sleeping peacefully, or a strong wall fully built. A feeling of oneness with ourselves and our labors makes for a deep, sighing sort of rest. And when we have difficulty loving our work, a vacation--like prayer--can include time and intention to find again whom and what we truly love.
Theologians say that with God (unlike with people, who are fragmented) being and doing are the same thing. The Christian scriptures say “God is love.” Augustine described Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as the “Lover, Beloved, and Loving.” What does it mean for you to remember that Love itself, after fully expressing its identity through creation, chose rest?