People who thrive on structure and organization in daily life generally seem less spontaneous that those who live life on a “come-what-may:” basis. Setting aside a time for this and a time for that or following a set schedule is, however, a means of self-discipline. It helps to cut down on “surprises” and aids others in determining our reliability. It establishes for us and for others a certain “comfort zone.” When we are in school our days are pretty much structured; so too in our work environment. The daily routine in a seminary or monastery takes this to its apex. Ideally though, custom provides a setting into which each of us can inject our own spontaneity. There is a tendency in us to go with the conformity and flow of a “semi-robotic” day – especially as part of the herd of others that is doing the same. Even in retirement I am strongly drawn to organization and structure. Precise daily or weekly time slots for You, for others, and for myself are de rigour. This isn’t all bad because, as I said, self-discipline is involved.
What can very easily happen though is that our focus from one part of the day does not filter down into other “time slots.” It’s like our first exposure to a class in logic. In class we focus on the principles being explained. We learn them. We’re fascinated. We derive insight. Later, we drive home, or mow the lawn, or do the laundry and that class in logic is far from us even though some of the principles we learned could apply in each situation. We do this with You too when we move from a time slot of prayer to a time slot of eating breakfast and reading the morning paper, or doing yard work, or working out on the treadmill.
Keeping You present in times not “slotted” for You is a major goal of spiritual growth. One of the times this becomes most difficult is when watching TV or a movie. We become so “pulled in” by what’s on the screen that all thoughts of anything else are effectively erased. This is why the broadcast media is so powerful. Nonetheless, the point is precisely about keeping present to ourselves that which we most desire to be present.
As a teacher of mine once said, “…it’s not what you learn in this classroom to pass a test that’s important, but rather how you apply what you learn here to your life.” There’s a huge gap between the ideal and the real here. Keeping Your presence in our focus every minute of every day may be the ideal but the reality is there’s too much else in our cluttered lives that fights against it. Maybe the best we can do is to desire to keep You always present and to try a little bit harder each day to do it.