From time to time I utter a digital wail about the number of emails piling up in the monastery inbox. I make heroic efforts to keep up with them, I really do; but I realise that there is a fundamental flaw in what I’m doing. In effect, I’m allowing others to set the monastery’s priorities. If we reflect a moment, we can see how that applies to everyone, not just the community here.
Allowing others to set our priorities is dangerous. Clearing one’s inbox, for example, does give the illusion of achievement; but it is only an illusion. Tomorrow there will be another incoming tide. Deciding what really matters and being prepared to follow it through may not endear us to everyone, but it does allow us to concentrate mind and heart. So many of our difficulties stem from our losing focus or trying to do too much. Yes, we have to find a way of reconciling all the many claims on our attention and no, I am not suggesting that we excuse ourselves from our duty on the grounds that multi-tasking is not for us. However, I do believe we would do well to spend a few prayerful moments thinking about our customary priorities and deciding whether they really are priorities or just a matter of habit. The answer may surprise us.