A week and a half ago I went on a weekend retreat with three pastor friends. We met up in Sylva, North Carolina at the second home of a member of the Atlanta Mennonite congregation. We got in a couple long hikes, sampled some excellent and just OK craft beer, and had lots of conversation. In regards to the latter, it was about the opposite of a silent retreat.
One of the things we talked about was busyness. I’ve never quite bought into the language of “work/life balance” since it implies that work and life are two different things. But being too busy I get. Specifically, we had some fun talking about what signals tell us that we’re too busy. For the last number of years, I’ve thought about four main personal indicators for this stage of my life. 1) First and foremost, Am I keeping a weekly (usually Monday) Sabbath day clear of work (church) responsibilities? 2) Am I going for a run three days a week? 3) Do I have time to read Christian Century magazine? 4) When was the last time I sat down outside and watched the chickens peck and scratch?
These are by no means the most important things in my life – being with family, play, sharing household duties, silent meditation, and getting enough sleep all rank very high. But if those other four things are happening, everything else is usually working out well. When one or more of the four start to fall away, other important things tend to follow.
I also recognize these indicators are laced with economic and educational status privilege. Although I recommend chicken therapy to anyone with a patch to keep them.
I appreciated the weekend in the woods with friends. We may make it an annual thing. It helped remind me to pay attention to these busy signals and made me wonder what others claim as their own signals.