Intervalo: In Praise of Lingering

Sacred Yoga 087

This mortal flesh is so fragile, susceptible to dis-ease of every kind, yet a working miracle with a million functions every moment: chemicals interacting, electrical impulses firing across nerve synapses, fluids passing across permeable membranes, powerful internal acids transforming food into energy, a mind-body filled with imaginations and dreams and visions from another world, and deep instincts to create and destroy, to birth and to consume, and within it all a LifeSource flowing throughout this being to innervate and enliven all that we are. Can anyone deny we are flat out miracles?

And yet exterior forces, cultural pressures and the like, want to turn this miracle of life into a machine that produces, or is rendered obsolete and worthless if it can’t produce, ever more for others to consume. Is there no meaning to our lives greater than accomplishing, doing, and producing? Is there no value higher than the daily consumption?

O mortal flesh, and all who dwell in this mortal vale, shall we finally learn to reverence the precious gift of life, of moments, by pausing to notice the unfolding of being, seeing the glory shining in us and all around us, drawing down from the layers of hyper-activity to the being layer, the place of contemplation?

How did the sacred pause of lingering in the glory of this mortal moment come to receive insipid names like laziness, worthlessness, malingering (bad lingering)? Who decided lingering is unnecessary, disallowed, and downright evil?

And how do we draw up the courage to practice intervalo, the pause, the European midday period of releasing productivity to settle into being here, in a country desperately pushing us ever forward? Do we need the permission of some authority figure to drop off the ledge of frantic activity into the layer of pure manifesting of the Source? Perhaps some Italian elders from coastal villages like Bonassola will come teach us their ways, and show us how intervalo works for our highest good and the feeding of our souls and communities.

In 2006 my wife and I walked on those beaches, strolling with no purpose, and watching the villagers close their shops at midday, offering themselves the delight of practicing being. Then after a few more hours of work they would close the shops again and gather in the village center. They would “hang out.” They would tell stories, probably gossip a little, and be community. Their life together was their focus of attention. Work was just that thing they did for a few hours here and there between the long periods of tasting life’s deliciousness.

It is not too late to make a new start in this country, to arise and treasure this mortal flesh moment as unrepeatable and irreplaceable. This is the moment. This is the moment for intervalo.

Thomas Merton, beloved 20th century monk and author, wrote the following in No Man Is An Island: “Let go of all that seems to suggest getting somewhere, being someone, having a name and a voice, following a policy and directing people in ‘my’ ways. What matters is love.”

Morning, noon, and night the bells of the chapels around the world are ringing, calling us to drop what we are doing and to fall once again into love of God, neighbor, and self. But we are too busy substituting activity for love. We think we will have time for pausing to love and pray later, and we think wrongly. For if we are not present in this moment, what makes us think we will be present when we get to the next moment we are always thinking of?

Everywhere the bells are ringing still, calling us to return, inviting us to start now, to start over, to start anew. There is no other time. There is no later. This is the moment to fall into the one thing that matters and to let all else fall away. This is the moment for intervalo, to pause, to pray, to love. This is the moment!

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About soulcare4u

I am the author of Monks in the World: Seeking God in a Frantic World, published by Wipf & Stock and available through Amazon.com; and of a blog on Wordpress.com, "A Contemplative Path." I serve as the founding spiritual director of The School for Contemplative Living (www.thescl.net), adjunct faculty of Loyola University, and as a pastoral counselor and spiritual director in private practice.
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