“Saint John Chrysostom says in one of his writings that the terrible thing is, when someone dies, that we look at the person whom we loved and say, ‘And yet, I have been unable to love him, love her to perfection.’ But then we must remember that life does not cease with death, that life continues, that for God all are alive, and that our mutual love and our mutual power to forgive go beyond the grave and beyond time. This is what Father Lev Gillet called a certainty of hope.”
The idea of leisure is almost un-American, in its disregard for achievement, efficiency, and time-management. Do you deep down suspect that to enjoy leisure is to be lazy? Laziness has no part in leisure as Amy Lowell knows it to be, which is as a Presence to be cherished for its “teeming vigor.” To abandon oneself to “unmeasured time,” and the silences and delights of Now, is to make ready to receive gifts that God can’t give us when we are scurrying to and fro.
Before cell phones, which tempt us to flit about from a text message to a game to an Instagram photo, those in less-developed countries might at least have enjoyed leisure, as Richard Swenson wrote about in his book Margin. They are often poor, and have short life spans, but he found that they were happier than we who are continually in the red as regards time, if not money. The number of people in the world without cell phones has surely shrunken drastically since he wrote.
Leisure: the Basis of Culture is a title and a truth (by Josef Pieper).
Leisure, thou goddess of a bygone age,
When hours were long and days sufficed to hold
Wide-eyed delights and pleasures uncontrolled
By shortening moments, when no gaunt presage
Of undone duties, modern heritage,
Haunted our happy minds; must thou withhold
Thy presence from this over-busy world,
And bearing silence with thee disengage
Our twined fortunes? Deeps of unhewn woods
Alone can cherish thee, alone possess
Thy quiet, teeming vigor. This our crime:
Not to have worshipped, marred by alien moods
That sole condition of all loveliness,
The dreaming lapse of slow, unmeasured time.
This afternoon was a healing balm, flowing from the mild-weather waking to breezes coming in at open windows, and Divine Liturgy on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women. I was celebrating and extra-blessed along with all of the Marys and Susannas and Salomes, plus Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. Our Sisterhood at church also counts this as our Name Day.
So after all the spiritual food and agape meal, when we finally arrived home, all three of us (my two housemates and I) spent some time out in the corner of the back garden enjoying the sun while working or reading.
The photo below was taken two weeks ago after a rain, but it gives the rare wide view. The table where we like to sit is off the picture to the right.
Kit talked to us as she added some emitters to the irrigation lines that serve the pineapple guava. Last summer many of its leaves got sunburned, probably because it wasn’t getting enough to drink.
At dusk I went around taking pictures as I seem to do most days. The abutilon is a somewhat gangly adolescent right now, and it was near impossible to take its picture with a nice scene in the background, but each bloom is exquisite, hanging down bell-like so that one has to point a face or camera skyward to see inside. This view is also toward the street, and the lightpole near the corner of my property.
If I stand near that light pole and point my camera back toward the house,
this is what I see:
Do you see the abutilon at the far left? I have yet to finish filling in the asparagus beds on either side of the walk, though I spent a few hours on the job last week. When that job is finally completed I plan to dedicate a blog post to the topic, but by then I might be too done with it all.
Here is one of the showy milkweeds I planted a week ago – I still have narrow-leaf milkweed to put in the ground, plus tomatoes, basil, succulents, pipevine… Tomorrow is May 1st. When I took a look at the weather forecast for the next ten days, to see how hot it might get, I was quite surprised to read that we are expected to get more rain showers. This spring I have several times been mistakenly comforted in “knowing” that we have seen the end of rain. I guess it’s too soon to start leaving my tools and toys out of doors at night.
And now, a poem, which I posted at least once before — but it does seem like one that bears repeating, with its simple and obvious truth about days such as the splendid one that for me is coming to a close. For many of you, it is already the merry month of May.
What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?
Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.
Natives dislike speed, as we dislike noise, it is to them, at the best, hard to bear. They are also on friendly terms with time, and the plan of beguiling it or killing it does not come into their heads. In fact the more time you can give them, the happier they are, and if you commission a Kikuyu to hold your horse while you make a visit, you can see by his face that he hopes you will be a long, long time about it. He does not try to pass the time then, but sits down and lives.