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La Dolce Far Niente

"Nothing can be more useful to a man than a determination not to be hurried." -- Henry David Thoreau

"Our lives often seem like suitcases bursting at the seams. In fact, we are almost always aware of being behind schedule. There is a nagging sense that there are unfinished tasks, unfulfilled promises, unrealised proposals." -- Henri Nouwen

FR RONALD ROLHEISER began his latest column in The Catholic News with these two quotes. He elaborated, "What's wrong with hurrying? Any doctor, police officer, spirtiaul director or over-worked mother, can answer that: Hurrying causes tension, high blood pressure, accidents, and robs us of the simply capacity to be in the moment. But spiritual writers take this further. They see hurry as an obstacle to spiritual growth. Donald Nicholl, for example, says 'hurry is a form of violence exercised upon time'... a form of greed and gluttony... The possessions we really want are experience, knowledge, sensation, achievement, status."

Sounds familiar. Story of my life. Still trying to keep non-essentials out -- needless tasks, meetings, things, and so on. When the Great Singapore Sale started, i cut up three unwanted credit cards that have been sent to me recently. No urge. Good. Now, what Rick Steves wrote in a travel guide sounds sweeter than ever: 'la dolce far niente' ('the sweetness of doing nothing' in Italian). Oh, to dabble in this fine art soon in some beautiful spot on earth, and just "stand and stare" or "sit and dream"!

"The sower sows the word. ...but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing." -- Mark 4:14,19

AN INTERESTING SCREWTAPE-LIKE STORY which i've read some time ago and still find very meaningful is Satan's Meeting:

Satan called a worldwide convention of demons. In his opening address he said, "We can't keep Christians from going to church. We can't keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth. But we must stop them from forming an intimate relationship with their savior. Once they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken. So let them go to their churches; but steal their time so they don't have time to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ."

"This is what I want you to do", said the devil. "Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!"

"How shall we Do this?" his demons shouted.

"Keep them busy in the non-essentials of life and invent innumerable schemes to occupy their minds," he answered. "Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, and borrow, borrow, borrow.

"Persuade the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work 6-7 days each week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford their empty lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children. As their families fragment, soon, their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work!

"Over-stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still, small voice. Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive. To keep the TV, VCR, CDs and their PCs going constantly in their home and see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays non-biblical music constantly. This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ.

"Fill the coffee tables with magazines and newspapers. Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, mail order catalogs, sweepstakes, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering free products, services and false hopes.

"Keep skinny, beautiful models on the magazines and TV so their husbands will believe that outward beauty is what's important, and they'll become dissatisfied with their wives."

"Keep the wives too tired to love their husbands at night." "Give them headaches too!" "If they don't give their husbands the love they need, they will begin to look elsewhere."

"That will fragment their families quickly!"

"Even in their recreation, let them be excessive." "Have them return from their recreation exhausted." "Keep them too busy to go out in nature and reflect on God's creation." "Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, plays, concerts, and movies instead."

"Keep them busy, busy, busy!"

"And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences." "Crowd their lives with so many good causes they have no time to seek power from Jesus." "Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause."

"It will work!" 'It will work!"

It was quite a plan! The demons went eagerly to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get more busy and more rushed, going here and there. Having little time for their God or their families. Having no time to tell others about the power of Jesus to change lives.

I guess the question is, has the devil been successful at his scheme?

You be the judge! Does "busy" mean:

Please pass this on, if you aren't too BUSY!

by tree#138680 on Sun Jun 20 04 12:14 pm | profile


After many classifieds, many phone calls (and SMSes) and many moments of day-dreaming, have finally booked a four-day holiday in Krabi, Thailand. An exotic resort by a beautifully pristine beach, and a sister resort with an alluring spa. All these for under S$500. Truly amazing! Also looking forward to catching up on old times with H.

At the end of the year, an even greater holiday in a well-recommended retreat centre in cool Chiangmai beckons. Looking forward too to fellowship with a new friend.

Thank you, Lord, for your many blessings. Here i come, to 'stand and stare' and marvel at the wonders of your creations!

Posted by: tree#138680 on Sat Jun 26 04 1:57 pm

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