Monday, July 28, 2008


I had an insight today. It popped into my mind when I passed someone walking a dog while I was walking around the lake. I had met with my spiritual director, Fr. H, in the morning, and he also heard my confession. We were talking about the sin of sloth, and I was feeling a little discouraged, because I just can't seem to break out of my lazy habits. Well, when I saw the dog I remembered something T told me about training dogs: you have to give the dog a chance to do its thing, too, and then you have to establish a clear signal so the dog knows when it's time to heel, and when it gets to pull you around by the leash and sniff and pee on every trunk and lamppost. The signal might be a command, a stance, a different collar or lead, as long as it is clear to the dog when it can play and meet its own doggy needs, and when it should obey and behave according to your needs.

The point? Maybe I can train my unruly brain in the same way! I need to work productively, and I also need "holy leisure", time to pray, read meditatively, or especially, just contemplate. Instead, I spend too much time being guiltily unproductive, playing computer solitaire or some such. Maybe if I set aside a certain time each day and give myself explicit permission to "veg", I could use that leisure time more restoratively, contemplatively, and still be willing to be more productive during other times of the day. E.g. to set a minimum daily period, let's start with what Fr H says is his community's rule: 1/2 hour lectio divina and 1/2 hour meditation daily. They also have daily Mass and community prayer (Divine Office) at morning, noon, and evening, as well as reading something edifying over supper. We talked about that in the morning; what the dog-training analogy adds is the feeling that mandating prayer & meditation time might actually work, that I might actually change a little as a result.

Have you ever stopped to think about the fact that spending one day out of seven in leisure is one of the ten commandments? Yes, it is right up there with "thou shalt not kill" and "thou shalt not commit adultery". It is that important!! But so is work, and I pray God to help me find a better balance.

.... On a less serious note .... was I the only one giggling at Mass this morning? The Old Testament reading, Jeremiah 13:1-11, was pretty graphic, and kinda gross. Don't you think? Phew.


  1. You need to veg: I need to "stim." Stimming, for me also means playing computer solitare, or doing a crossword or a sudoku. "Stimming" is an autistic behavior used to counteract the unacceptable stimuli from the environment (including the internal environment). If I don't do it occasionally, I become increasingly disturbed until I do. I break out in anger or depression or even classic autistic behavior. I do this for my own sake and the sake of those around me. Does this assuage the guilt for "wasting time?" Not one bit!

  2. I have sometimes wondered if I don't fit somewhere on that autism spectrum. I've looked up the criteria at some time or other and decided "no", but at least during PMS I totally relate to your comment. The computer game -- simple games, not thinking games -- "counteracts the unacceptable stimuli from the environment (including the internal environment)". Hmm. I am really looking forward to seeing this endocrinologist on the 14th. I am really a basket case for half of every month (including now).