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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Thursday, February 21 2002

Creatures of habits

Yesterday's entry on my daily routine elicited one email in response (which is more than I get most days):

Just read your Jonal for today...
1. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
2. Variety is the spice of life.
3. We only pass this way but once...
4. It's no wonder you're grouchy!
5. (couldn't resist)...just teasing.

Teasing or not, it may be true. On the other hand, despite the routine, there is "play" scheduled in my routine, both in the time devoted to my workout, reading, and website work (which "work" is my hobby as well as avocation and, best as I can tell from this vantage point, my "life's work"). And there is variety, even if I can't taste the difference between the Sumatra and the House Coffees.

But point three is the real nub of my choosing to discuss my routine this week. I often try to leave you hanging by ending the day's essay just as it's getting somewhere, and also because that seems fitting in something called a "postcard." After detailing the day's schedule, I left for today to come around to what it all means. I'm not sure, but I have some ideas worth pondering.

1. Does "routinizing" our daily schedule slow it down or speed it up? To the extent that it may be, as the writer suggests, more boring than a less organized or spontaneous approach, it may at least seem to be slower, which should be a good thing as we go into our sixties.

2. Does the routine facilitate the quest for the spiritual? I think the preponderance of opinion uttered over the centuries is "yes." That's why the church over the millenia, since the time of Moses, has followed a carefully prepared calendar of feasts and fasts, an annual routine, and also why movements in Christendom ranging from monastcism to Methodism (as it originated, as a "method" toward spirituality) have recommended "rules" of prayer and of ordering one's days. I submit, too, that having a set schedule makes it easier to resist temptation, which is one of the keys to living spiritually. So you could say that "habit" as used in the title for today and yesterday has a balanced ambiguity about it.

Another thought about the boredom of the routine. Though from the outside, hardly anything could appear more boring than a monastic schedule of getting up at 4:30 a.m. daily, praying for four hours together, working a few hours, studying a few hours, then praying again much of the night. Yet Abbot Macarius, whom I introduced here a few weeks back (on the topic "logismoi"), says the monks he's known, and there are hundreds, have never complained of being bored, even those who are elderly and have been doing the same daily routine most of their lives. I'm not taking from this that one routine is as good as another...but only that at least some seem less dull than others.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Grandma's gentlemen callers

Dear family,

I have become a little older since I saw you last, and a few
changes have come into my life since then. Frankly, I have become a frivolous old gal.

I am seeing five gentlemen everyday. As soon as I wake up, Will Power helps me get out of bed. Then I go to see John. Then Charlie Horse comes along, and when he is here he takes a lot of my time and attention. When he leaves, Arthur Ritis shows up and stays the rest of the day. He doesn't like to stay in one place very long, so he takes me from joint to joint. After such a busy day, I'm really tired and glad to go to bed with Ben Gay. What a life. Oh yes, I'm also flirting with Al Zymer.

Love, Grandma

P.S. The preacher came to call the other day. He said at my age I should be thinking of the hereafter. I told him, "Oh I do it all the time. No matter where I am, in the parlor, upstairs, in the kitchen, or down in the basement, I ask myself, "Now, really what am I here after?"

Sent by Mike Harrison

Thought for the Day

"We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another," wrote St. Paul. That's something worth desiring. Beauty that comes from gazing on the face of God is more enduring, more compelling, than any surgeon's

Frederica Mathewes-Green

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