The Tesla Roadster is said to go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 1.9 seconds. Whoa!
Who really needs to go that fast?! I understand better than most what it is like to be running late, hurrying to my destination and feeling like I need to drive a little faster—I’ve been known to have a lead foot in these cases a few too many times.
But is it smart, safe or the best thing for us and others? We know it is a wiser choice to slooooow down.
Likewise, I know all too well about reacting emotionally in challenging situations. My temper can go from zero to 60 in about 2 seconds. It is a benefit to slow down my thoughts, emotions, and reactions a bit to gain a better perspective.
The local, national or global news can cause one’s heart to race, from zero to 60, in the time it takes to read or hear just one reported sentence. It is all too easy to get caught up in the “swirl and chaos of fear, violence, and anger assaulting our world today. Practicing soberness means being detached from emotions, both overly negative or positive feelings. It is not good to be “drunk” on either extreme.” (Discerning Hearts)
Alternatively, we can meet all challenges with an attitude of soberness.
Fr. Mauritius Wilde, Prior of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome and former prior of Christ the King Priory in Schuyler, Nebraska, has a podcast series on the Benedictine understanding of sobriety. He will also return to Nebraska to lead a retreat at St. Benedict Center, July 16-18, 2021 called Sober and Merciful: Saint Benedict’s Journey of Mindfulness.
Saint Benedict suggests a way to let go of our “ego” – at least a little bit – and become open to the fullness of life. What he recommends to the Abbot of the monastery, is helpful for all: Sobriety not only of the stomach but as a basic attitude of mindfulness. How can we courageously let go of thoughts, desires, and emotions, in order to face our own truth? How can we accept the reality of ourselves and become merciful to others?
In four podcasts, Fr. Mauritius addresses different aspects of sobriety.
Soberness is taking just what we need. What do I take with me? What do I take in? What do I consume? How much wine, money, noise, whatever? Is it too much? Too much of anything can become unhealthy.
Father Mauritius invites us to contemplate the Benedictine understanding of sobriety and to appreciate that abstaining or taking in smaller doses of the many things that we can slowly become addicted to is a practice of mindfulness. Becoming aware of what is good and what is enough is a practice of mindfulness, mercy, and sobriety. Abstaining a bit from what we may have too much of, “we can better appreciate smaller doses of what could become unhealthy.” We must restrain to make space for God to fill.
“But soberness is more than an absence of something—there is its own positive quality. The absence of the noise of TV is more than just turning off the tv. We begin to discover how beautiful silence is. Once you taste it, you want to have more of it.”—Fr. Mauritius Wilde
In leadership positions, whether as a parent or a business manager, being sober allows for truth to emerge. Our authentic listening and display of empathy is an act of mercy. We become role models when we are calm, not letting every emotion carry us away. Being sober is being free of or not being overly attached to our emotions—from fear, frustration, anger, envy, or sadness. A leader who is not sober can do a great deal of damage.
If you are near Nebraska, consider joining us for Sober and Merciful: Saint Benedict’s Journey of Mindfulness at St. Benedict Center, July 16-18, 2021.
No matter where you are, learn more from the Rule of St. Benedict on the importance of practicing sobriety in your daily life.
“What the Benedictine life can show us is the possibility of keeping equilibrium in the middle of polarity. The Monastic lives constantly at the point of tension between stability and change, between tradition and the future, between the personal and community, between obedience and initiative, between the desert and the market place, between action and contemplation. Yet this is in fact, nothing more and nothing less than the Christian life itself.” -Seeking God, Esther de Waal