Posted: 19 March 2014

Lent: Poverty of time

Have you used our BenevoLent app? It's a fun tool that allows you to calculate how giving up chocolate, clothes or anything, really, can help our work supporting vulnerable young people.

We’re also offering challenging resources this Lent to help you pray, reflect and discuss what poverty means for children and young people. For the third week of Lent, Mo Baldwin reflects on the poverty of time.

Poverty of time

We’re all busy. It’s not difficult to find solutions offered to this dilemma, such as recipes for busy parents, tips for busy teachers and workshops for busy executives. 

But if we are called to go to a holy place, to spend time with God, do our busy-ness and activity get in the way? If our children or those of our community need to be heard, does our busy-ness encourage us to close our ears? 

Perhaps we think we have to go somewhere special to find a sacred space, or that we have to stop everything we are doing to ‘put time aside’. 

'God among the pots and pans'

Yet, St Teresa of Avila, a sixteenth-century Spanish nun who was one of the greatest Christian teachers on prayer, describes the soul as a garden. The presence of God is the water that the garden needs to flourish. 

She reminds us that prayer should be part of every aspect of our lives, not boxed-off into a special time or place. Teresa insists that our response in daily life is the key to sanctity. She famously coined the phrase, ‘God among the pots and pans’ to indicate the very earthy nature of where she thought holiness lay. 

How we live offers us ways to pray. 

And yet, within our busy lives we need to take time to consciously make space, to make sacred space, even if we don’t stop doing everything else. If we do what we need to do, as well as we can, and without rushing ahead with our thoughts, we can create space in the midst of our busy-ness. 

Can we use the commute to pray and to meditate? 

In the midst of work, can we create a sacred moment, a space to make time for God? In our fear and loneliness, can we focus on the sacred not the selfish? Can we make space for the needs of the children in our midst, either at home, in church or in the wider community? How might we combine our busy lives with seeing the needs of the poorest around us?

As Thomas Merton wrote in New Seeds of Contemplation, published nearly 70 years ago, ‘Hurry ruins saints as well as artists. They want quick success and they are in such haste to get it that they cannot take time to be true to themselves.’ 

If we spend too much time rushing around we are in danger of missing God’s presence in the here and now. In all our busy lives when we fail to make space for recognising the sacred, we can end up feeling that we are God. Then if we move through our lives to a time when we feel less needed we may find it difficult to adjust.


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By Mo Baldwin - Church team

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