Thursday, 11 November 2010
What I hadn't realised up until that point was the enormous benefits to be gained by a bit of stuffing around. I remember reading about somebody or other encountering Albert Einstein striding around Princeton barefoot and with his trousers rolled up to his knees. "Professor Einstein, what are you doing?" they asked. "Loafing," he replied, "just loafing." The mind is a wonderful thing and most of its workings are unconscious. We are aware of the surface of it, as we are aware of the surface of the sea, but the huge and powerful and beautiful mechanics of it all happen without our knowledge and certainly without our control, no matter how much we might kid ourselves to the contrary. A learning that Einstein had grasped and which I stumbled blindly into was that the times when we relax our pretences at control are crucially important. To maintain any form of creativity it is necessary to let the mind be fallow; to let it have its own way for a while without trying to cram it into objectives and prioritised lists and schedules.
This has all come back to me with a vengeance as I look back over my first year as Bishop. I"m glad to say that I have maintained, more or less, the discipline of sitting absolutely still every morning and letting the chattering machine gradually wind itself down. I'm aware of the compelling dictates of the stuff that MUST be done, but also increasingly aware of the need to be the sort of pastor described by Eugene H Peterson in his wonderful quaternity of books on pastoral ministry (The Contemplative Pastor, Working the Angles, Under the Unpredictable Plant, Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work) : that is, unbusy, subversive and apocalyptic. Or, alternatively, I could succumb to the pressure to do stuff and become an executive in an ecclesiatical organisation, but I think, on reflection, I'd really rather not.