Our spiritual journey
Sister Ruth Bolarte

Be still and know that I am God -Ps. 46:10

Several years ago, Father Leo, our chaplain, introduced me to “Leisure, the Basis of Culture” by Josef Pieper. I was intrigued by the concept of “leisure” in the context of so many tasks in convent life. Recently, I had the chance to read parts of Pieper’s book and reflect on his views on this captivating concept.

During this summer many of us may be looking forward to some leisure time. We plan to take a break from our daily work routine in order to return rested and energized. In our society of cell phones and computers, we may find it hard to disconnect from the many tasks that must be fulfilled. Sometimes “our leisure” time becomes only an exchange of “working” tasks for another set of “entertaining” activities.

Leisure is more than spanersion, amusement, the passing of time, or a “break” we take in order to perform better. Pieper affirms that leisure has meaning and value in itself.

Our busy routines may hinder us from contemplating our colleague at the office, the child playing with his mother, the mail person, the fierce waves of the ocean, our healthy feet taking us places, our God loving us….Pieper speaks of true leisure as an “attitude of mind and a condition of the soul that fosters a capacity to perceive the reality of the world.”

In other words, leisure does not only mean being relaxed and not working. True leisure calls me to let go of attachments and be open to the possibilities of the realities around me. It is an attitude of being receptive, available and vulnerable to be astonished by the goodness of God’s creation.

True leisure enables us to contemplate the world as God does. Thus, leisure is the basis of culture because it creates a place, time and attitude to engage in spanine worship. And through worship, we can come to know ourselves and the world, to be closer to what God calls us to be.

Wealth does not always bring leisure. On the contrary, people can be leisurely with very little. However, it must be said that poverty and oppression may prevent many to enjoy leisure. In the measure that we contemplate our world with God’s eyes, we must make efforts to correct this unjust situation in our society.

Those of us who do not face these hardships sometimes may need to be freed from our “work culture” so we can proclaim and celebrate our God whose creation is good! (Genesis 1:3)

As I write this article, I am enjoying some leisure at the shore, rejoicing in the presence of the vast ocean; my sisters; the taste of three meals a day, the dynamics of making delicious meals, the conversations with those around me, the memories of younger years, the joys of today – in God who rejoices in my being! May leisure be a source of contemplation in our lives!

Sister Ruth Bolarte, I.H.M., is the director of the Catholic Institute for Evangelization in Philadelphia.