Monday, January 16, 2012
Illuminating the unknown way
We have friends, David & Naomi Wenger, friends I’ve never met, who direct TheHermitage – a place of rural beauty in southern Michigan. A place of retreat, prayer, silence. In their recent letter Living the Hermitage Way, David wrote these words which I would like to heed and apply. Perhaps you would, too. And though it sounds simple , – “we don’t need to hold on to our work, we simply do it” – I must often, a hundred times a year, try to reestablish the rhythm of work and rest that God prescribes for my life, which, of course, is going to look different from yours.
A recent volunteer likened The Hermitage to a dairy farm. He said the rhythm here is as steady as a farmer’s milking schedule and the work is never done. He asked the question we hear repeatedly, “How do you do it all?” Of course, the answer is, “We don’t do it all.” But still, we do plenty. So when pressed further we go on to say, “We begin each day in the chapel with Morning Prayer, we stop our work and eat at regular intervals, we take a walk, we sit still, we finish our work at 5:30 and leave what is undone for another day. We take a weekly Sabbath, we
sometimes leave our work for others to tend and go on retreat and vacation.”
It often feels like an unsatisfactory answer. How can any of these practices contribute to getting things done?
The Hermitage Affirmation prayer liturgy refers to this rhythm of being as a “framework to live our discipleship.” The framework provides an order in which to move through our days; it is the liturgy of ora et labora, prayer and work. Whether our morning liturgy (meaning “work of the people”) is in a barn with cows or a chapel with candles and scripture, there is a comfort to rhythm that quells the troubling thought, that illuminates the unknown way, that quiets the excess of demands. The familiar framework holds us so we don’t need to hold on to our work. We simply do it.
Thank you, David and Naomi.