What do Fast Company, Huffington Post, and Christianity Today have in common?
They finally get it.
When people ask me how I contribute to changing the world I tell them I read books.
Books provide the seminal ideas that undergird my teaching. Teaching is about big discussions about big ideas which come from big books. From time to time, we write big papers so that we own the big ideas.
But in order for people to have time to do this work—to practice the vocation of “student”—we must linger. Lingering suggests that we take our time. Lingering means long lasting. Lingering is something which is slow to end.
Lingering is contemplation, reflection, meditation. Lingering is
Sipping our favorite drink as we muse on the back porch
Silencing: hours of stillness interrupted by moments of rumination
Staring into space, allowing our minds to ponder the moment
Finding just the right word to express our thought as we write
Spending time with a friend, finding it hard to leave, to say good-bye
For years I have taught a course entitled “Theological Foundations for Ministry.” Every time I teach the class I have students thoughtfully consider a dozen articles on multitasking. They then must write a reflective paper assessing their own life’s work. To a person, each student tells me the process was life-changing. They never thought that their 24/7/365 culture had insidiously invaded their lives.
So I was pleased that Fast Company had finally slowed down. The ground-breaking business magazine was playing catch-up. “Deep dives” are now being promoted.
Christianity Today is now acknowledging that snake person women may be “burning out” because of their own high expectations. Gee, I wonder what might have made them succumb to that idea?
“Silence is good for the brain.” Exactly. Only we did not need Huffington Post to acknowledge the research to lead us to this truth.
Monasticism has a long-standing commitment to silence. Solitary aloneness to contemplate transcendent Truth is embedded in various Christian traditions. Christians of different “stripes” have seen the need for individual, quiet focus on God.
Scripture is clear that we have this need, using the word “meditation” in multiple contexts. Joshua 1.8 and Psalm 1.2 are perhaps the most famous statements, imploring the believer to “meditate on God’s Word day and night.” Psalm 4.4 adds that this practice of quiet contemplation should be done while in bed. And Psalm 143.5 ends with “I muse on the works of Your hands.”
In 2009 I wrote a piece entitled Hummingbird Amputees where I said this in closing:
As a monastic-mystic Mark believes mystery shrouds human understanding, stands as a marker of Heaven, subjects accepted norms to One outside earth, and speaks best through Jesus who is “the mystery of godliness” (1 Timothy 3:16). Mark lives and teaches in Indianapolis, IN.
“Lingering” will be one of the six practices Mark will teach in his upcoming class on Cultural Analysis and Engagement for Capital Seminary and Graduate School.