Life in the Balance


from Book by Book
Michael Dirda

To do good work a man should be industrious. . . to do great work he must certainly be idle as well. --Henry Ward Beecher

Plato insisted that a life devoted solely to pleasure would be as incomplete as one given over entirely to wisdom. Only the mixed life is a complete and fulfilled life.--Michael Dirda

Levine's words call to mind the classical imperative, "Do what you are doing." That is, whether you are preparing dinner or playing tennis or tuning a car's engine or sweeping a room, really focus your whole self on just that. Do it well, and you can invest even the most trivial activities with significance, transforming the mundane into the spiritual.--Michael Dirda

And how does focus move us from the mundane to the eternal? In the classic way of all things, by taking "self" out of the equation. In the presence of grace, when the constructed, artificial self moves out of the way, even for a moment, the life of grace resumes its steady rhythm. This wouldn't be Dirda's answer to the question as he finds reason enough in the labor itself; however, it is my answer, taking the good I find here and making it better by directing it toward the ultimate goal of praising God. Praising God may only be done when we do everything with Him, through Him, and in Him. It may only be done when all that we are is put into the task at hand because the task at hand is what God has allotted us for this time. When we do what we have been allotted without complaint and without restraint, we are performing God's will perfectly.

And this is the explanation of that mysterious phenomenon of eutrepalia or "leisure in the Lord" the joy that flows from recreation, which also must be pursued with all that we are. Whatever is the calling of the moment must be engaged in with all that we have and all that we are giving back to God what grace has given us. This is the life of constant prayer--constant immersion in the life of grace through performing with all of our ability whatever task lay before us at the time.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on June 19, 2006 8:27 AM.

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