The virtues of laziness and meeting God in slack times
by Ken Rolheiser
A lazy man thinks: A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station!

Laziness is the mother of all invention. It helped me find shortcuts in Math problems, even when the teacher asked me to show all the work.

Leisure time is different from laziness. Spare time or time off can lead to recreational and relaxing activities. Our society praises hard work, almost to a fault. “Hard work never killed anyone, but leisure accounts for few casualties,” my brother George used to say.

Simply, too many people are too busy to spend time with God. The gift of the seasons gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect. With winter, we even have the chance to STOP. The deeper message promised by death and rebirth in nature teachers us.

The silence of winter teaches us: “Silence helps one enter into more elevated spheres and listen to the mysterious voice of God”. Pope Pius XII.

Father Brendan McGuire used the analogy of Slack-key music in Hawaii in a homily to teach us about allowing some slack time in our lives. The Mexican cowboys left some guitars in Hawaii to assist the locals with herding their cattle. The art of tuning these guitars was absent, so new tunes were created with the slack strings.

Amazing sounds come from only one instrument. Playing a rhythm on the top strings with the thumb while plucking the cord with the fingers makes a sound like two instruments. Thus beautiful original music came from the heart of the people.

Here, McGuire says, “tension is very significant. This is very symbolic of their way of life versus those of us who live on the mainland. Our way of life can tend to be rigid and maybe highly strung, just like the wires of our guitars.” That is why so many of us go to Hawaii, “to relax and get a bit of slack in our lives,” McGuire says.

Just as the beauty of the music comes in the slackness, so it is in our own lives. “It is in the slack of our lives that God comes and makes music of our lives. Often times we are so highly strung, we have no time for that. We find it so hard to leave room for God,” McGuire says.

Sometimes we just need to STOP. “Don’t just do something; stand there,” Buddha said.

In “Only in Loneliness” Sandburg says:
Only those who learn how to live
in loneliness
can come to know themselves
and life.

I go out there and walk
And look at the trees and sky.
I listen on a rock or stump
And say to myself,

“Who are you, Sandburg?
Where have you been,
And where are you going?”

(481 words)