“The Duty of Delight”

I’ve been in a funk for the past several weeks — a feeling of fatigue, lethargy, burnout. Few have noticed because I’ve been performing well on Sunday mornings, but I regret that some have experienced my impatience and irritation.

Every now and again I find myself in a funk such as this. What’s helping this time is a return to the diaries of Dorothy Day. (If you don’t know who she is, Google her.  She is one of my all-time heroes.)   To receive what’s in these diary/journal entries, I need to step back, relax, be in a contemplative mood.  The entries carry this consistent, simple theme: Do the work God gives you to do each day. Robert Ellsberg edited the volume and he titled it The Duty of Delight, because that’s a phrase Dorothy used.  The “duty of delight” is a call to mindfulness in the face of drudgery or sorrow, a “duty” or discipline that allowed her to notice what is joyful or delightful in the blessings of that day.

This is nothing new for me.  But I forget this, often.  It appeals to my Benedictine sensibility.  The “duty” or discipline of daily prayer provides an environment that nurtures experiences of joy in the blessings of this day.  But I let myself be distracted by other things when it is time to pray.  Time and again I find myself needing to return to this simple wisdom, this simple practice because, in this, I perceive God’s presence and grace.

I am into my 59th year on the baptismal journey.  Next month I will be ordained for 33 years.  And I am still a beginner in all of this.

About Pastor Andy Ballentine

Pastor Andy Ballentine loves being a parish pastor! Pastor Ballentine took his BA degree from the University of Virginia (with a major in sociology) and earned the Master of Divinity degree at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He earned the Master of Sacred Theology degree at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, with the thesis topic of: "How Benedictine Monastic Spirituality Nourishes Parish Ministry." He has completed the program of Spiritual Direction from the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. In the Virginia Synod, Pastor Ballentine has served as Dean of the Peninsula Conference and as chaplain to the candidates in the Virginia Synod’s Candidacy process (those on the way to being approved for ordained and professional ministries in the church). He has staffed many, many Virginia Synod youth events!