Eugene Peterson wrote, “Leisure is a quality of spirit, not a quantity of time” (The Contemplative Pastor, p.21). In reflecting on this single sentence for ten straight minutes, I realized I was fulfilling the Psalter’s words in Psalm 139:17: “How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” To ponder the thoughts of God (interesting that they aren’t the words of God) itself takes “a quality of spirit,” but it also seems to require an illustration, as I have no words to describe it adequately.
Imagine a balloon slowly deflating over a period of a day, air squeaking from the small hole until finally the balloon lies dispirited on the floor. Of course, this is not a positive event for the balloon, but it describes almost the cognitive sense that one needs in order to perform Peterson’s dictum.
I have done this exercise across the week, and will continue to do it today, and it helps slow everything down. In a world of wicked rapidity, taking the moment to deflate and focus on the sensation of thinking with God’s thoughts is an exercise of trepidation and interior renovation: these are anything but fun! But, the Scriptures coalesce around the idea of living in revelation and it seems the Paslter was right: “I try to count [God’s thoughts]—they are more than the sand” (Ps. 139:18a).
Sometimes it helps to get lost in the ocean.