How Did I Get This Busy?

Recipes for busy mums, tips for busy teachers, workshops for busy executives – these are just some of the courses around today that help us cope with being too busy. People speak and act as if ‘being busy’ is a force beyond their control, as if somewhere back in history a malign spirit of busy-ness invaded the planet. There was a time, in the good old days, when people had time, and life moved at an easy pace. But ‘modern society’ changed all that and now we are stuck with a way of life that is a breathless rush. ‘People don’t have time like they used to’ – and we all nod in agreement.

I have recently taken to asking those who come to the monastery on retreat where they find sanctuary in their lives today. Some of them admit frankly that they do not have any sanctuary; they are just too busy, and that is why they have come on retreat. This busy-ness is so endemic that even that act of coming on retreat for forty-eight hours evokes in them strong feelings of guilt. ‘I’ve had to leave my spouse to look after the children, ‘they say, or ‘I should be working’; and so the feel that simply being in the monastery is self-indulgent. Then I ask them: ‘Why have you allowed yourself to get into this state?’ The question throws them, because until that moment most had assumed that the excessive busy-ness of their lives was somebody else’s fault. They and many others have an unspoken assumption that ‘modern life’ is busy, that being busy is one of the penalties of living in a developed country in the twenty-first century and that one day they will make a life decision to escape from all this….but not yet.

‘Busy’ is, of course, a relative term, a fact humorously illustrated by the advertisement that shows a man on a bike stuck behind a stationary but solitary bus on a Caribbean island. The cyclist complains: ‘Man, this is gridlock!’ Leaving aside for the moment the relative nature of being busy, the foundations of our contemporary feeling of ‘being too busy’ are worth a closer look.

Put simply, if somebody says they are too busy, then either they are too busy or they think they are too busy. Either way, the responsibility lies with them; they choose to lead a busy life or they choose to think that they do. When I have said to people on retreat that they have chosen to be busy, they find this impossible to accept.

Abbot Christopher Jamison
Taken from ‘Finding Sanctuary’ Monastic Steps for Everyday Life

31st July 2019 The Guest House
21st June 2019 The Glorious Abundance of the Almighty
25th March 2019 Shrinking
15th January 2019 Balance is All
19th November 2018 The human hunger for beauty
9th October 2018 Shifting Perspectives
19th June 2018 Thank God I was wrong
16th May 2018 "Today is a new dawn, new, clean and fresh - and so are you, my dear! Don't worry. All is well."
26th March 2018 The Long Winter
7th March 2018 The Gift of Tears
19th January 2018 An Understanding of Kindness
14th December 2017 Do You See This Woman?
17th October 2017 We Are All One with You
7th September 2017 Gaps
20th June 2017 "Love is not loved."
25th April 2017 I Hope You Dance
21st March 2017 From Darkness to Dawn
27th October 2016 The Bright Field
27th June 2016 The Enemy Within
31st May 2016 The Little Way to The Almighty
25th January 2016 Love Immeasurable
11th November 2015 Letting Go
21st May 2015 The Gift of Loss
6th May 2015 Walls
24th November 2014 Leaning into Winter
24th October 2014 Crossing the Road
25th June 2014 Fetters of the Soul
30th April 2014 The Power of Gratitude
10th March 2014 The Darkling Thrush
11th February 2014 Spring
10th February 2014 Masks
3rd February 2014 Dancing in the Wind
21st January 2014 Chains of nostalgia
13th January 2014 Forgiving wrongs darker than death or night
7th January 2014 Singing out Loud
17th December 2013 CHRISTMAS FOUND
9th December 2013 Withering into the Truth
2nd December 2013 The Celtic Prayer Garden
25th November 2013 Missing Dates
18th November 2013 NEARER GOD’S HEART
12th November 2013 Night
27th April 2010 Healing God
25th November 2009 Our Poverty
1st September 2009 Which of the two tigers will win the fight?
1st June 2009 Be your own role model
25th May 2009 The Feast of the Ascension of the Lord
18th May 2009 Power of the real presence
7th May 2009 "Lessons I did not learn in School" - by Bill Gates
30th March 2009 The Long Walk to Freedom
23rd March 2009 Become a Friend
16th March 2009 Ireland in Identity Crisis?
9th March 2009 Love to Pray
2nd March 2009 Life - Giving Words
16th February 2009 Exclusion Policy
9th February 2009 Somewhere the Child
2nd February 2009 The Conversion of St Paul
12th January 2009 Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"
22nd December 2008 A Christmas Parable by Louis Cassels
15th December 2008 Work – from In the heart of the Temple by Sr Joan Chittister
8th December 2008 Am I at home when the doorbell rings?
1st December 2008 Street Corner Christ
17th November 2008 How Did I Get This Busy?
10th November 2008 A Homily for The Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica – 9th November 2008
3rd November 2008 John O’Donohue taken from “Benedictus - A Book of Blessings”
27th October 2008 Charles Peguy 1873-1914, French poet and politician
20th October 2008 The following is an extract from a talk given by Bishop George Lungu of Chipata in Zambia in Africa, to the synod of Bishops being held in Rome this month.
13th October 2008 Excerpt from ‘A Door of Hope’ by Jean Vanier
6th October 2008 A Reflection on Matthew's Gospel 21:28-32
29th September 2008 The Daily Decalogue of Pope John XXIII