Before drinking lemonade on the deck, we are reposting our most popular July blog (2019).
Philosopher Josef Pieper wrote Leisure: The Basis of Culture in 1948, and seventy years later his insights still reward us. In a culture that enshrines work over play, we are tempted, Pieper said, to reduce all life to purposeful activity energetically pursued. But human flourishing requires not just effort and socially useful action, but the ability to marvel, behold, and spiritually celebrate. Leisure is a step beyond the work-a-day world and feeds a quiet wellspring from which we live.
Watching the sunset in a sea both violet and amber, listening to the distant caw of gulls and waves lapping the shore, drinking in a star-studded sky at the park as a symphony swells around us, fishing in a quiet pond, meeting the dew in your garden in an early morning walk, waking in a tent on a mountain summit. Or reading poetry beneath an old oak tree, dancing unobserved, reveling in the cool breeze through an open window as you gaze on a beloved cityscape.
Leisure is about allowing oneself to be awash in life’s goodness, celebrating the inherent beauty and mystery of our lives and our world. Philosophers assure us that leisure – which seems to insinuate itself to us naturally in July -- is not the same as idleness. It is the quiet celebration of the world and life in which we find ourselves. If work involves effort, leisure involves openness to awe. This summer, whether your leisure involves quiet reading under a tree, days at the shore, concerts in the park, or fireworks in the night sky, we wish you the joy of an uplifted spirit open to festivity.