Back to school is happening all around us. In my house, that means a lot of getting things ready that we expect like school clothes, school supplies, etc... but it also means signing up for sports, lessons, and other activities. It means coordinating schedules over and over again to make sure that one of us is able to pick up and drop off our children where they need to be and when. The old adage goes that it takes a village to raise a child, and that was said before we loaded our children's schedules with sports, arts, and the like. Maybe it now takes a fleet of drivers and nannies and coaches to raise a child.
But while we are getting everything squared away for school to start, I read about a man named Toyohiko Kagawa, who was a Japanese pacifist, Christian reformer, and labor activist. He had an incredible life. He said his vocation was to help the poor, and so he moved in with them and lived among them. He established schools, hospitals, and churches all over Japan as he lived out his life among the poor. One of my favorite quotes from him is, "I read in a book that a man called Christ went about doing good. It is very disconcerting to me that I am so easily satisfied with just going about."
As we are getting our schedules squared away, making sure food is on the table, and a roof is over our heads; are we going about doing good, or are we just tricking ourselves into being satisfied with just going about. Are all of these activities good, or are they just there?
I was talking with someone about the idea of a poustinia, which is a Greek word meaning a silent place for prayer, and how in many Celtic communities this was a place built into every community. It was not a multi-function space where prayer could happen, but a place set apart solely for prayer. When I told her about this she commented that she needs that in her life. She needs silence, and she needs rest, but she just does not have time.
It made me think about my own life and my family's schedule and the schedules I hear about on a daily basis. When I ask someone how they are doing I more and more often get the reply, "good, just really busy." Are we unable to have a quiet place for prayer in our lives, or are we unwilling? We say we do not have time, but I think we could find the time by building it into our schedules, and by removing the constant noise.
We all know we are busy, and our children are busier than we were when we were kids. We all know that with technology we are never alone and quiet. Maybe this busy and noisy life is our new satisfaction with "just going about," when we read in a book sometime about this man called Christ who "went about doing good." As our schedules and logistics ramp up in our family's lives, take back some time to be quiet and still so we can see what good there is to be done