There are days when I am driven to distraction. Realising the pressure of the day, I set out with a list of tasks written in my diary in the hope that some detail of lesser significance is not pushed to one side by the unfolding circumstances. The day begins full of anticipation and hope, gathering momentum as I move from task to task, the sense of achievement rising with each concluded task. By the end of the day, as I walk through the door feeling tired but with a sense of satisfaction, my mind is awakened to something important that has slipped my mind, my list and my activity. What should have been amongst the highest of priorities somehow slipped through the net. How can this be?
I realise that we are all capable of such slips – they are not all too common, fortunately… or are they?
It is perhaps the lack of immediate catastrophic consequences which masks their regularity, allowing it to escape our notice – until its fruit appears in such central aspects of our lives. When I listen to someone lamenting a broken relationship, there is often admission of such lack of attention to important things. I am aware in my own life of times when relationships with my wife and children suffer because I am distracted by other things. The sense of achievement emanating from the task is diminished by the cost attached to it in terms of these key relationships.
In my last year of university we were subject to a pitch by the top accounting firms, in which one graduate spoke of his rise up the corporate ladder. As he detailed his client list and his hours of work, one question echoed through my head: “But when does he live?”
When Jesus asked “What does it profit a person to gain the whole world, yet lose their own soul?” he was leading us in this direction: making sure that our energies and priorities reflect what is really important, lest the cost becomes overwhelming.
Our era is littered with such losses: political progress at the expense of truth and compassion, economic progress at the expense of justice and equity as well as the environment, abuse of power by governments “committed to” democracy, by church leaders “committed to” servanthood, and community leaders invested with the trust of the people. In making progress, we have forgotten some important – essential – priorities.
Each day I take time out to reflect on these important aspects of my life. Together as a community, The Eighth Day sets aside time each week to ask ourselves the important questions of what it means to be human in this globalised world. How can we be true to ourselves and to the calling and challenge which Jesus gave?
We don’t have all the answers, but we are committed to wrestling with the questions.
October 10, 2004