“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.” Genesis 2: 1-3
A few months ago, the staff at the chancery for the Catholic Diocese of Duluth was suddenly abuzz with amazement at a view out of one of the windows. Right there, just off of East Fourth Street in Duluth, across the street from the cathedral, nestled in a small ravine between the chancery building and the old East High School (current middle school), was a large deer, a buck.
It was lying down with its head up, facing into the bright sunshine. He was sunning himself in the middle of the day, taking a rest to soak in the warm sunshine.
We all marveled at his large size, the fact that he still had his antlers in March, and the serene look on his face as the sunshine fell upon him. He seemed about as content as a deer can be, resting in the warm sun after a long and cold winter. And this whole event got me thinking.
It is my opinion that one of the biggest obstacles for the modern American Christian to the regular practice of their faith is busyness. We are all just so very busy. Our modern society insists on us constantly being busy, always being productive, goal-oriented, task-focused and useful, and such an attitude can seriously challenge the development of a real and life-giving relationship with God in our life.
I sometimes wonder if we may have forgotten what work and activity is for. Work is not meant to give our lives meaning and purpose, and in fact, it cannot do that. Work is a means to an end. It is meant to provide us with the necessary financial means to live our lives healthily and well.
Work is not meant to be an end in itself. Neither is activity meant to be an end in itself. Work and activity are indeed good and virtuous things, as long as they hold their proper place in our lives as God intends.
The answer to being overly busy, however, is not to refuse to engage the world around us. The answer is to have the courage to take a look at our lives from time to time and ask ourselves: Am I too busy? Am I able to give time on a regular basis to pray, to read the Bible, to go to church, to think about things of God, and to simply have time for healthy leisure?
Now, certainly, there are times when we are legitimately swamped in our lives, and we need to cut back. But the question I am asking is this: Am I genuinely busy due to legitimate priorities, or am I busy because I don’t have my priorities in right order? After all, even God himself rested on the seventh day of creation.
We need time to rest, pray and spend time with family, and carving out that time daily is not selfish; it’s necessary for our spiritual health.
The summer months are a great time to evaluate our schedule and activities and ask: Are my priorities where they should be? Is God first in my life? Is spending time with my family a serious priority? What can I do to make sure that I am spending my time as God would ask me to spend it?
Doing so might not only help us to be less busy, it may lead us closer to God and each other.
God bless you!
Father Steven LaFlamme is the priest at St. Mary's Catholic Church, Silver Bay, and Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Two Harbors.