C.S. Lewis was the first Christian author I read. I don’t know how I got his Mere Christianity, but when I became a Christian as a high school senior, I read it with interest. I went on to read just about everything he had written. My faith has had a Lewis-shape since.
In his spiritual autobiography, Surprised By Joy, Lewis describes when he was around sixteen years old and lived and studied in Great Bookham. He developed a habit of life and study that he called the “Bookham Pattern.” This routine served as the archetype for a “normal day” for the rest of his life: “For if I could please myself I would always live as I lived there.”
Here is his original:
|0900||Reading or writing at desk||2 hours|
|1130||Return to desk||1 ½ hours|
|1400||Walk in the countryside||2 ¼ hours|
|1700||Return to desk||2 hours|
|1900||Evening meal, talk, lighter reading||4 hours|
|2300||In bed||9 hours|
He had some caveats. He typically took his afternoon walks alone, because if he took a friend, they would end up talking, and while walking and talking are both great, “it is a mistake to combine them.” Eating and reading, however, are happily combined. Not any book will do though. “It would be a kind of blasphemy to read poetry at table.” The table is also not for study, but for “a gossipy, formless book which can be opened anywhere.”
Now, let’s all admit this: Lewis was not a normal guy (even at sixteen). He had a ridiculous intellect, a rip-snorting wit, and was, for most of his life, a bachelor.
Now for me to have a regular Bookham day, as a husband and father of four, I would likely be disqualified from the ministry for neglecting family and work. What father can wake up at 8am? What employer will let you fit in a 2 ¼ hour stroll in the middle of every work day?
So, I did some tinkering and trialing. And here it is, The Family Man’s Bookham Pattern (FMBP), for your use and enjoyment:
|0615||Breakfast with kids, dress, tidy up||1 ¾ hours|
|0800||Bible reading and prayer with coffee||1 hour|
|0900||Reading or writing at desk||2 ½ hours|
|1200||Return to desk||2 hours|
|1400||Walk in the city, coffee, prayer and reflection||1 hour|
|1500||Return to desk||2 hours|
|1700||Evening meal, shouting, insane flurry to get kids ready for bed||1 ¼ hours|
|1815||Worship with family (sing, read, and pray)||¼ hour|
|1830||Read Lord of the Rings with older kids||1/3 to ½ hour|
|1900||Exercise, date night, lighter reading, odds and ends||3 ¼ hours|
|2215||In bed||8 hours|
The FMBP can be used when you’re in school, if you’ve got a desk-heavy job, or if you work from home. Odds are, with meetings and emails and appointments, you’ll rarely follow the FMBP with absolute purity. But that’s okay. I’ve found that even a thirty minute walk has helped some of my thickest sermon tangles unknot.
So have at it, and let me know what you think.