Not Busy

Every now and again, I see or read or hear something which helps crystallise some of the (usually chaotic) thoughts in my head.

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to go to the Sung Eucharist at Durham Cathedral on my own. Our own church worships in a school hall; the same school hall, in fact, where my children on other days eat their lunch, do PE and drowse and daydream their way through Assembly. More than half of the time I spend the service in a corridor with No3, or in a classroom leading a Children’s Church session and trying simultaneously to contain 2 year olds, engage 7 year olds, and arbitrate felt-tip disputes between a formidable cohort of Year1 girls. For me, in this time of my life, Sunday-morning church is a noisy, harried, often stressful time. I enjoy seeing friends and I (mostly) like that our children have a chance to worship in an informal, child-friendly environment, but spiritually I find it about as fulfilling as a visit to a service station.

The hour or so in the Cathedral on Sunday was, therefore, all the more precious. The beauty of the music, the unaccustomed ritual and formality of the service and the majesty of the surroundings (not to mention the absence of any small children belonging to me) helped still my mind and focus my attention on what was being said. As is so often the case when I actually have the time to concentrate, each hymn, every bit of scripture, and the sermon in its entirety all seemed to speak directly to me.

I came out filled with good Lenten resolutions, with plans to look up something mentioned in the sermon as soon as I got home. Of course, within two minutes of meeting up with my family, I was wiping dissolved gingerbread men off frozen little faces and instantly forgot the whole thing.

This morning, with a little time to myself and prompted by a tweet, I remembered, and took myself off for a visit to There’s my task for Lent this year (along with giving up Twitter and wine, something which I predict – hopefully wrongly – will last three days max).

It has really struck me, now I come to think of it, quite how much I associate “busyness” with virtue. I don’t know if it’s anything to do with having given up work to be a stay-at-home-mum (hate the phrase; don’t know what else to use) so that I feel obliged to demonstrate that my time is valuably filled, but I spend most of my time running around with an internal monologue which goes something like “mutter…mutter…mutter…too much to do…mutter”. There’s also an element of having little autonomy over how I fill daytime hours: between erratic wake-up times, school runs and the vagaries of toddler moods and naps, it’s hard to allocate set periods aside to get things done, and the result is a kind of permanent back-footedness; a lack of control which does nothing to relieve the sense of being on a hamster-wheel spinning ever faster but, in the absence of smart technology wiring it up to a generator, producing precious few results.

I daresay I won’t accomplish it, but my plan for the next few weeks is to live more mindfully and more faithfully. To work hard in the periods available to me to do so, but not to feel guilty about laying down tools at other times. To try to pause the perpetual motion (mental, more than physical), to take the time to enjoy my family as they are now, as I wanted to do when I gave up work, rather than to keep filling in some imaginary timesheet which no-one is going to check anyway.

My name is HeadinBook, and I am Not Busy.


One thought on “Not Busy

  1. I love this. For the last two years I have tried nad failed to give up shouting for lent! This year we have decided that we are not giving up, but actually going to endeavor to add something to our life or do something as a family. We actually have time tonight after dinner to talk about this more as they boys have been thinking about what we should do.

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