The book Make Time for Yourself— It’s Your Time is a text written
from a very personal standpoint, in the context of the author's
spiritual life as a monk. "Nothing in this world has eternal
value. Use your time and don’t waste it... ""Time is for most
of us a luxury good." Making time for yourself and giving
time to others is a source of joy that enriches our lives. The
quiet time we devote to prayer or meditation gives us strength
to master our lives and enhances our spirituality.
Dr Notker Wolf OSB, born in 1940 in Bad Gronenbach in Bavaria,
Germany, is the highest ranking Benedictine of the Confederation of
the Benedictines. As Abbot Primate of the order of St Benedict, he is
constantly travelling to visit the 8,100 monks and 17,000 nuns and
sisters in Benedictine communities all over the world. His
headquarters are at Saint’ Anselmo in Rome. Notker Wolf speaks 13
languages, seven of them fluently. An enthusiastic musician, he plays
classical music on the flute and performs on the electric guitar in a
German rock group "Feedback". He is a very realistic, open-minded
and encouraging person with a great sense of humour. Interreligious
dialogue, "loving the world of the other,’ is an integral part of his
Christian spirituality. With his views on leadership, he is frequently
sought out not only in church circles but also by managers in the
RECENTLY at the airport in Rome, the young woman at
the check-in for the flight to Santo Domingo and
Guatemala looked at me as she gave me back my
documents and said in disbelief: "You are in the air more
than a pilot!" And it’s true that I do cover a lot of miles
I am sure that three of the ten days of my trip to
Santo Domingo and Guatemala were spent sitting in a
plane. And in addition, nearly every day I/ travelled for
two to four hours by car.
My mobile existence might seem extreme, but this is
the general tendency today. It has to do with the increase
in mobility and the networking of our world, and in my
case of course with my function: as an Abbot Primate I
am responsible for 800 monasteries, which are located
on all five of the world’s continents. To fulfil my
responsibilities I sometimes have to live the life of a
manager with an improbable number of appointments.
And on the other hand, my life as a monk is ordered in
an entirely different way.
The question preoccupying many people today
concerns me too: with all the stress and hectic pace of
modern life, can you still find some peace? With all the
pressure on you from outside, can you still be in control
of your own time?
An international manager who recently sat next to
me on the plane asked, " You're so calm, even though your
situation is basically no different from ours. How do you
It was this question that prompted me to start writing.
My idea was that people might be particularly interested
in reading about the thoughts and experiences of someone
who is himself working under great time pressure.
Sometimes when I mentioned what I was writing
about, people asked with a touch of irony whether I was
going to practise what I preached. | told them, "T believe
that what I have in common with others is not only a
specific need but also the fact that I am looking for ways
to deal with it. But what I believe in particular is that
the tradition I come from is very helpful in this respect."
Many people, not only managers, suffer from having
less and less time for the things that are really important.
Time for yourself — this seems to be becoming a scarce
"Time for myself " is time to be together with others
or to be free for prayer. I can simply drop my work. This
for me is very important: just to stop what I am doing
and say now something else is more important. During
prayer it is God, during conversation it is the other person.
The ancient proverb of Qohelet in the Bible is as true
today as it ever was: "Everything in life has its own time.
There is a time of joy and also a time of sadness. A person
who is under such time pressure that he cannot let go in
order to cry is in a critical state. And so is a person who
cannot laugh heartily.
I am repeatedly guided by the wisdom of this
preacher from the Old Testament. Of course I cannot
separate the periods of joy and sadness as I would like to
do.They are going to overlap. But it is not just a question
of dividing up an objective span of time. It is a question
of humanizing this time.
The time I spend with other people or in a one-to-
one conversation is quite different from the time when
am trying to see how many e-mails I ought to get done
in an hour. During a conversation I am not looking at my
watch, there is no rush. A person is there and it is his time.
This applies even more to prayer. Then time acquires not
only a human but a divine dimension.
Even Jesus is a shining example of how to make use of
time. Over and over again he sought solitude in order to
pray. And when he walked by the Sea of Nazareth with
his disciples he devoted his time solely to them. The story
of the road to Emmaus illustrates how he was there for
people who were close to him and wanted to tell him
their troubles. But even the disciples still sometimes had to
wait if other people needed his help. I love these stories,
also those that relate how Jesus withdrew, exhausted, to
the home of his friends in Bethany, where he himself could
simply become "human" again in the literal sense of the
word. Jesus also set limits when others, such as the Pharisees,
tried to put pressure on him or importune him. As we
read in the gospel of Saint Luke, he also rebuffed somebody
who was acting as if his life would never come to an end.
He told a parable in which God says to a rich man. "You
fool! This very night the demand will be made for your
soul: and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then? (Luke
I am also guided by our founder St Benedict. Based
on his reflections on the quality of time, the founder of
western monasticism succeeded as virtually no other has
done in creating a highly refined way of structuring time.
The daily routine of the monks, which is balanced and
governed by an inner rhythm based on the liturgy and
nature and gives each day and year a special quality, still
has much that can serve as a source of inspiration and
benefit for the secular world today.
The time which is the subject of this book is nothing
that we can "have" or "take," nothing we can trade or
with which we can become rich. Some people say "time
is money." And it is certainly right that time is precious.
Because it is limited. Our lifetime, like our life, cannot be
bought, it is a gift. When we say we are giving each other
time or talk about "time costs," then it is clear from the
language how precious time is.
Of course there is the time which is measured by the
clock in minutes and seconds. This is important too,
because it gives order to our lives. But this order is only
half of life. Our lives are finite. And when we talk about
time, we are also talking about the art of making good
and sensible use of our lives during the limited time we
are in the world. Those who want to save time and
constantly become more hectic may well end up by losing
A general return to slowness is no remedy. We cannot
isolate ourselves from the tempo of our world, but in the
midst of this pressure must look for ways of finding "our"
time. Life requires time. And if I don't take any time for
myself any more, then this life is not worth anything.
There is apparently a valley in the Tyrol where people
greet each other with "Take your time!" And even if
someone has made this up, there is something in this
greeting. It is almost a blessing.
To take your time, to take time for yourself, to make
more conscious use of your time — this is what this book
is about: Make time for yourself. It's your time!
So at the end of our lives we can leave the temporal
world in a state of blessedness.
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