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Being and Doing

“Being is not rewarded in our society today. Doing is what counts,” says author Adele Ahlberg Calhoun.1 Just about all of us experience this pressure daily: the hurry; the worry; and the need to be productive, however it’s defined. So how can we enter into the triune life (as Calhoun puts it), enter into the being of life, to marvel at this world and to be present to God’s presence with us?

Calhoun suggests several practices to resist the compulsion to go everywhere and do everything, but they’re not meant to become another list of activities to check off. The point is to lovingly gaze back at God; to notice life in the now; to see other people and creatures more fully; to relish art, Scripture, and other gifts that point to the mystery and meaning of life.

“Be still and know that I am God,” said the psalmist (Ps. 46:10). Jesus Christ is the One in whom we “live and move and have our being,” said Paul (Acts 17:28). And here’s my recent favorite: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15). For those, like me, who are addicted to doing, these are statements of both challenge and reassurance.

Betsy Schwarzentraub

1 – Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us, Revised and Expanded.