Letters of Life

RePost: Wasting Time with God

A blog I subcribe to, The Website of Unknowing by a Christian thinker, Carl McColman, wrote something so interesting I decided to retweet–or is it repost–an excerpt.

Background: This writer blogs and writes books about the contemplative life of a Christian. In fact, he had just finished writing, editing, and proofing a book about it.

Someone he knew and respected in the Christian community defined contemplation as “wasting time with God.” He talks about what it means to waste time in today’s context.

If I am brutally honest with myself, I know I waste a good two hours a day, between reading silly stuff online (do I really need to know about iPhone prototypes that get lost in California bars?), watching TV (I don’t do a lot of that, but I do some), playing games on my iPhone (ditto), shopping for books online (just because I have a house full of the things doesn’t mean I don’t want more), and — dare I say it? — Facebook. Okay, okay. If I can waste time all these other ways, why not waste more time with God?

I’m not suggesting to my readers that everyone needs to be suddenly devoting two hours a day to contemplation, just because that’s how my monastic friend challenged me. In fact, I believe most people probably shouldn’t attempt more than an hour a day, without competent spiritual guidance. And if you’re not meditating/contemplating an hour a day, twenty minutes or even ten minutes a day is better than nothing.

But perhaps all of us can consider how much time we waste every day, doing stuff for no other reason than it’s silly or fun. I don’t think we have to eliminate silly or fun from our lives, but that’s like saying we don’t have to eliminate chocolate or potato chips, either.

A healthy diet means lots of fruits and vegetables and only the occasional candy bar. Likewise, a healthy contemplative life means more silence and less Facebook. I have a long way to go on this one myself, so I offer these words not in a spirit of judgment, but rather with an open-ended sense of possibility: If we want to waste time with God, just how far can we take it?

For a long time, I’ve been wanting to express this idea, something I got out of my Lenten season. But I didn’t want to come across smug or self-righteous either. Mr McColman does it so well here. And I know others need to feel connected, and validated even, and Facebook gives you that, no matter how fleeting or superficial. (More on that later.)

If Facebook takes up a very large part of your time, your life, your thots (What to post next? These dinner pics? Or how ’bout the one with my galpals?), and how you define yourself on that medium, maybe it’s time to take a few steps back. Why? Because maybe–and this is the best reason of all– those few steps back might lead you to, instead, waste time with God.

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1 Response »

  1. This might be totally random, but I’ve ever read this somewhere and it simply stayed with me. I apologize if this is completely out of context; but I thought of sharing it with you. I think that we can both agree that on some fronts, time that is enjoyed wasting isn’t wasted.

    I digress easily, as always…

    To be honest, I agree that as a Christian, I do know that spending more time with God is something that is not only achievable, but is also necessary. After all, every relationship takes two; and this one is no exception.

    As you’ve eloquently put in your post (I do English no justice, I hate that), the fact remains that many of us are:
    1) Uncomfortable with stepping out of our comfort zone.
    and we are also…
    2) Unsure about voicing our opinions, for fear of seeming arrogant and self-righteous.
    Thankfully, as you’ve shown, not everyone of us are like that. It takes skill to impart words like these over the internet without sound proud and prideful, so kudos, of course.

    You have thoughts impressive to read; it makes me shiver with the fact that not many people like that are around anymore. I do look forward to thoroughly probing into the rest of your blog (:

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