As a parish pastor, I took almost every Monday as a Monastery Day. I would park myself in a coffee shop with my Bible and laptop and stare into space. I did what one does in a monastery, only with coffee and wifi.
This was not a vacation day. It was not my Sabbath. It was my Thinking Day. It was my favorite day of the week for several reasons.*
The WSJ shared a story last week about Edmunds.com – the used car company – and it’s practice of taking a meeting-free day they call Thinking Thursdays. Imagine: A meeting free day.
The International Justice Mission – which is a great organization, by the way – used to (and maybe still does) have a time every morning in their headquarters when there are no phone calls, no meetings, no one-on-ones except between individuals and God.
We need this. Here’s a really good TED Talk about Slowing Down with Adam Grant who reminds us that letting ideas marinate in our brains is crucial for creativity. Grant points out that it took 16 years for Leonardo to finish the Mona Lisa because Leonardo knew all about letting ideas marinate. Adam Grant calls this marinating time “idea doubt.” Our first drafts and initial plans almost always require fine-tuning.
“There’s self-doubt and idea doubt. Self-doubt is paralyzing. But idea doubt is energizing.” Adam Grant
So . . . what would it look like for church offices to have no phone/no technology/no meeting Thinking Times each week? It could be a whole day or it could be an hour. Mid-council and other denominational offices could use Thinking Time as well.
If you’ve ever been on a silent retreat, you’ll know that it takes a couple days to figure out how to be silent without a racing mind or (for me) excruciating smart phone withdrawal. Do I stare into space? Do I take a nap? Do I pray? Do I talk to myself? Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes.
And then the brain cracks open.
As the world continues to be a Ceaselessly Noisy Information Fest, one thing the Church can still offer for all people in all places is quiet space. If a used car company is open to offering Thinking Days, surely we who are in the spiritual life business could do the same.
*100% of my Monastery Days also included meeting a person I never would have met in the church building. It was a break from the quietude but God always showed up.
Images are stock photos.