Sunday, 30 September 2012


We have been in the Holy Land for ten days. It was a pilgrimage full of churches and impressions. Yet the most memorable moment for me was when we went sailing on the Sea of Galilee in a wooden boat. At some point, the engine was turned off and while we drifted on the lake, various passages from the Gospels were read: about Jesus walking on the water, Jesus calming the elements, and so on. Then the rector proposed to recite the Creed together. It was a very beautiful moment.

After the Holy Land, we went on a silent retreat for five full days. That too was a beautiful time; all sorts of earlier memories came up which I did not know I still had. My friend Christy has written about a similar experience.

From the guesthouse library I borrowed a book by Josef Pieper, called Musse und Kult (translated as Leisure: the Basis of Culture). Apparently old Aristotle had already recognized that it is not enough to have free time; the question is what to do with it. In order for true leisure to exist, there must be something that lifts us out of the world of passing means and ends, of production and use. According to Pieper, the highest expression of leisure is the cultic feast; it enables a whole culture to come together, to remember, contemplate and celebrate the things they have learned without effort.

There were many interesting thoughts in the book, including a criticism of the Kantian tendency to measure the value of an action or a truth by the effort it took to accomplish or acquire. In the last resort, we are made for the Sabbath.

Keep breathing, that’s the key! Breathe!

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