My friend Lauren has a new motto painted over her kitchen sink: Otium Sanctum. It was the first thing that I noticed when we were visiting in their home a couple of weeks ago. I asked about it, and her husband explained that it was an ancient Latin phrase that the church fathers used to describe an attitude of heart and body which promoted an awareness of the presence of God in all of the issues of daily life. Literally, ‘Holy Leisure’, the ability to walk in the duties allotted to us with an inward restfulness and a reverent spirit. It describes a state where nothing is undertaken without the thought of God, where worship and communion with Him can happen at any time and in any place. What a marvelous reminder to the woman faced with an overwhelming potential of tasks for the day! This is where simplicity begins. Hurry and strife cannot survive in such an atmosphere of calm, just as true spirituality cannot thrive in a whirl of frantic activity. In the garden, at a desk, standing at the kitchen sink…we can enjoy the love of God and savor the rest that He gives when we are quiet enough to receive it.
“We must come to see how central our whole day is in preparing us for specific times of meditation. If we are constantly being swept off our feet by frantic activity we will be unable to be attentive at the moment of inward silence.” Richard Foster—Celebration of Discipline