Let’s not forget the ‘thinking’ as well as the ‘doing’ in life
- Credit: Archant
We shouldn't spend all our time 'doing' at the expense of thinking, says The Rev Susan Bowden Pickstock.
These days I often find myself in a graveyard, in fact I've grown very fond of all my churchyards, and the people in them. One of my responsibilities is to oversee the stones and their inscriptions.
How fascinating, then, to learn about an ancient Roman. Scipio Barbatus' epitaph is a pithy few lines on a stone slab. It says who he was and what he did. In contrast Emperor Augustus writes his own epitaph - seven sections on a wall, 35 paragraphs outlining all he has done.
Augustus was what he did.
It is culturally appropriate here in Britain, many centuries later, for us to ask total strangers a first question: 'What do you do?'
'To be or not to be…' mused Shakespeare's Hamlet (in a graveyard!).
'To work, or not to be!' our contemporary Hamlet might say.
- 1 ‘Porn addict’ Norfolk doctor who secretly filmed women struck off
- 2 Rare insect spotted in Norfolk for first time in nearly 100 years
- 3 Norwich street named one of the most beautiful in the world
- 4 Seven people arrested after 50 vehicles stopped by police at Thickthorn
- 5 Crumbling coast fear means Norfolk's 'golf ball' radar must be moved
- 6 Enjoy afternoon tea onboard a steam train in Norfolk this summer
- 7 Pub gets dozens of calls asking - 'Do you know there's a dog on your roof?'
- 8 Trains returns to railway station for first time in decades
- 9 Football club fined and chairman suspended over FA breaches
- 10 Chancellor and health secretary dramatically quit
But is this right? What of 'being' and 'doing'?
I'm aware of how busy I am these days, and also how busy are all the 'retired' people who live in the villages I serve. I came across a podcast on 'Post Work'. That is, the system that could come into place when robots take over everything and we all retire. It can only happen if we are all given a 'UBI' (a universal basic income) to enable us to manage without a working salary.
An interesting thought: what would we do if we didn't work, and who would we be? Not everyone works. However, do we value those who don't work as much as those who do? I'm not suggesting we condone universal idleness, but I wonder if our culture has gone to the other extreme?
In this season of Lent Christians imitate Jesus. Jesus whose work as God-and-man began with six weeks of doing nothing in the desert.
Or was it? In fact, I think it was six weeks of extremely tough thinking, feeling and experiencing. We wouldn't call it doing much but it enabled Jesus to then be and do. Lent could allow us time for more thinking, feeling and experiencing; and less 'doing'.
'To work and to be'?
The Rev Susan Bowden Pickstock is Rector of the Saxon Shore Benefice