Daily Riches: The Neglected Cultivation of Sacred Idleness (Thomas Merton, George MacDonald)

“Our being is not to be enriched merely by activity and experience as such. Everything depends on the quality of our acts and our experiences. A multitude of badly performed actions and of experiences only half lived exhausts and depletes our being. …when our activity is habitually disordered, our malformed conscience can think of nothing better to tell us than to multiply the quantity of our acts, without perfecting their quality. And so we go from bad to worse, exhausting ourselves, empty our whole life of all content, and fall into despair. There are times, then, when in order to keep ourselves in existence at all we simply have to sit back for a while and do nothing. And for a man who has let himself be drawn completely out of himself by his activity, nothing is more difficult than to sit still and rest, doing nothing at all. The very act of resting is the hardest and most courageous act he can perform; and often it is quite beyond his power.” Thomas Merton

“Work is not always required. There is such a thing as sacred idleness, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected.” George MacDonald

“my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Jesus, in Matthew 11:30

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your life ever depleted by “disordered” activity – by a multitude of “badly performed actions?”
  • Are you ever “drawn completely out of yourself” by such excessive activity?
  • When your experience comes up short, is your response to simply “multiply the quantity” of your acts?
  • Are you able to recollect yourself by cultivating “sacred idleness?” …doing nothing at all? Can you see why this could be “the hardest and most courageous act” you could do when frenzy brings despair?

Abba, deliver me from experience only half lived. Help me do less and do it more deliberately, slowly, and fully.

For More: No Man Is An Island by Thomas Merton


These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

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