There was once a common expression, “Idle hands are the devil’s playthings.” I understand the genesis of the expression and recognize that there are numerous Biblical passages that warn against idleness. (E.g. Proverbs 19:15; 1 Timothy 5:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:14)

But, in our times, I think is it might be more accurate to say that busy hands are the devil’s (or, to use Ignatius’s terms, the enemy spirit’s) playthings.

I’ve had conversations with two people over the last several weeks that were very similar. Both are people seeking to determine where they are being called by God in the next phase of their lives; they are both people to whom God and God’s plan matters. As I asked the questions one might ask oneself in discerning vocation, for example, what brings you joy, the response in one case was, “I’m so busy I don’t even have time to think about that question,” and in the other, “It has been so long since I’ve even thought about what I want or what makes me happy. I just have too much on my plate.”

I can imagine the “enemy spirit” cackling with delight at such statements.

When we let our days get too busy, we crowd out the space we need to remember who we are with God. We cease to make intentional choices about how we can best use our time and just let ourselves get carried along in the waves of our busyness.

It is possible to be too busy. And I think very many people are these days. We could use a little more idleness.


3 thoughts on “Busyness

  1. Brilliantly incisive! If printed in the NYTimes your observation would go viral. Far to many in our culture are simply exhausted.

  2. Agreed! There’s much wisdom behind Thoreau’s advice to “simplify, simplify.” To help our lives reflect our highest values requires some time almost every day in contemplation, reflection, reading, writing, have meaningful conversation.

  3. Also, I recently read this on another blog.–

    “The best-adjusted person in our society is the person who is not dead and not alive, just numb. When you are fully alive you are constantly saying ‘No’ to many of the processes of society, the racism, the polluted environment, the nuclear threat, the arms race, drinking unsafe water and eating carcinogenic foods. Thus it is in the interest of society to promote those things that take the edge off, keep us busy with our fixes, and keep us slightly numbed-out and zombie-like. In this way our modern consumer society itself functions like an addict.”

    – Anne Wilson Schaef, “When Society Becomes an Addict”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s