The 'B' word - we don't have to be 'busy'

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'How are you?' 'Busy!' 'I know you're busy, but...' 'I can't believe how busy I am this week' I catch myself uttering these phrases often without even really thinking about them. Actually, I used to catch myself uttering them, but I don't anymore. Not because I am on vacation, or because I quit my job and moved alone to a hut on a hill, but because I stopped saying them intentionally. I have, in fact, given up the 'b' word altogether. I am no longer ever 'busy'.

Oh, I still have plenty to do. I am writing this post in a half-hour window between running and getting ready to get back on the road for another day-long meeting. But in the meantime, I am drinking coffee and watching the sun rise with my dogs, saying my prayers and writing. Because I have plenty of time.

'Busyness' is a tyranny in our lives, and part of a system of belief that tells us that we are only worth what we do, what we produce, what we accomplish in our hours. Running around being busy is a strange badge of honor - being busy means we are important, we are connected, people need and want us. Which is wonderful, until it is overwhelming. Until we are so stressed by the demands on us that we can never rest.

Sabbath time, holy rest, is so important to our life with God that it is one of the Ten Commandments. Rest not only renews us, it reminds us that God is God and we are not. That we don't have to do everything because most things are not in our hands. That our worth is not determined by our to-do list, but by a God who created us and the whole world, and delights in it all. Rest allows us to join God in that delight.

It is hard to take a day of rest in our busy world, but it is not impossible. In fact, I would say it is radical. It is a remarkable act of faith to take some time and let the world turn on its own, so that 'we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness', as we say in our Compline prayers in the Episcopal Church. Still, I find that people are often reluctant to take the step of keeping weekly sabbath.

And so I offer a tiny portion of that wonderful practice: I have found that just dropping the 'b' word from my vocabulary has given me amazing amounts of spiritual, and actual, space in my days. I am not 'busy', ever. Not too busy to watch the sunset. Not too busy to talk when you call. Not too busy to get whatever I need to done. I have all the time in the world. I have been amazed by the changes in my life that have occurred simply by giving up that one little word. Bees are busy. I am blessed.