Wednesday, 11 January 2012

What might increase devoutness? Micro-retreats?

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Since I have been advocating that the cure for laxity is devoutness, and since I have been emphasizing the perils of rule following (the perils especially for the modern mind) - what should we do?

The answer should perhaps be re-phrased more like - what should we stop doing: and what we should stop doing is engaging with the mass media, interpersonal communications, socializing, passive forms of diversion (including those that are good for us, supposedly, like art).

We should dis-engage. Be silent. Go on retreat - or, at least, micro-retreats.

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I have been on one proper Christian retreat, and it was certainly worthwhile (staying in a monastery for couple of nights, observing the silences and attending the services - plus devotional reading and informal conversation).

But I was thinking more on a daily basis. Frequent micro-retreats.

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My own most frequent solitary retreats are for periods between half an hour and an hour - and take place in cafes and libraries - and in the walks to and from them (which can be used for prayer, or to fully aware of the surroundings).

Lacking these micro-retreats I feel a very big difference for the worse - a dissipation, a fuzziness, a loss of the sense of reality and contact with it, life just slipping past - they seem to be very important.    

But I notice that people seldom use such periods of unstructured time in the way I do - instead they try to structure the time, or to distract themselves from it.

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The whole point about these times is that they are unstructured, unplanned. It is a question of attitude.

I take a notebook, I always carry a miniature Bible - maybe read a psalm or two; each day I carry a couple of books (mostly 'non-fiction') - these are 'used' (if used) in short intense bursts of reading interspersed with note-taking.

(The notes are seldom or ever looked at again, but sometimes serve as an aide memoire).

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I would go so far as to say that - lacking some analogous times - the lives of many people seem to me to be quite hopelessly engaged and distracted. I can't see how they can get out from under this without time, unstructured time - if not a proper retreat, then developing a habit of micro-retreats.

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