What a gift to find a good word from one of my favorite literary spiritual directors that speaks to my life theme of unhurry. Von Hügel is talking about his habit of doing just one thing at a time. He would not have been a fan of “multi-tasking”:
“And here there is also the insistence upon doing this one thing always with a certain environment of peace, of non?hurry around it. I find this double practice of golden worth; and, in getting up of a morning, I gently plan the day’s doings, not too many of them.” (von Hügel, Baron Friedrich. Letters to a Niece. London: J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., 1928, p. 108.)
The “double practice” von Hügel was recommending was 1) doing one thing at a time and 2) doing that one thing with a peaceful, unhurried heart and mind. And there is a sense of not trying to do too many things, of doing just a few things very fruitfully rather than many things at bare minimums. Perhaps this is like Mother Teresa’s counsel to do little things with much love.
It would be in the spirit of being an unhurried leader to work this way. My anxiety and driven ambition do not produce nearly the good fruit as does my heart when it is relaxed, joyful, and rooted in secure love.
Do one thing at a time. Do that one thing with a peaceful, unhurried heart and mind. TWEET THIS
My own spiritual practice is to take time at the close of my day to engage two practices.
First, I reflect on the day I’ve just lived and look back for evidences of God’s grace and generosity. I have sometimes had the habit of being a “glass half empty” pessimist. Just ask my wife. But this practice has grown me in the habit of assuming the reality of grace in the midst, having noticed that every single day is full of grace, even when I haven’t always noticed it in the moment. This end of day reflection refreshes my awareness of grace.
Second, I look at my calendar and my tasks list for the next day prayerfully. I take a moment to imagine that it will look like to keep this appointment or work on that project with God, rather than for God or, worse, without God. (Of course God is always there, but I have sometimes failed to remember this reality). When I come to a particular meeting or project or task the next day, I am often able to remember my prayer the evening before and remain aware of God’s gracious and empowering presence in the midst.
As you work, do one thing at a time, well and unhurried. This is the fruitful invitation.