Too busy? Try this.
I thought I was doing everyone a favor. My wife, Anita, she carries a lot of the load. Okay. She carries all of the load for keeping us in the road. So when I volunteered to go to the grocery store, I knew I was doing everybody a favor. I proudly marched in. "Hey, look at me. I'm going to the grocery. Father of two, husband of one, providing for my family like a caveman, hunting and gathering." Just like the caveman. Searching and hunting to bring in sustenance for the family. So with my list, I merrily and merrily and proudly went through each aisle, carefully following the handwritten directions for brand, size, quality. On one side was written the list. On the next side of the envelope was written the menu for the coming week. I mean, the Hunt family, we had our act together that day. Until I got to frozen onions. Eight-ounce, chopped, Green Giant. Now thinking about the detail of that list, I realize it took Anita probably longer to make the list than it would have been for her to actually go to the grocery herself. But I was doing everybody a favor. So I had my detailed list. And there staring me in the face was the one item that simply didn't exist. Frozen onions, three bags. I found the frozen carrots, the frozen spinach, the frozen broccoli. Around the corner were the frozen waffles, the frozen bagels. No frozen onions. They had to be in the frozen vegetable section, but where were they? And then panic set in. What if I go home without frozen onions? I had found every other item, carefully selected according to specification. But what if three of these meals hinge on eight-ounce, chopped, Green Giant onions? How can I possibly face my family?
I only had one option. I couldn't stop and ask for help. I mean, I'm a man. And have you ever tried to find help from an employee in the middle of a grocery aisle? They're working, but they're nowhere to be found. I couldn't stop and ask a mom with a cart full of girls for help. Imagine the cackling humiliation when this poor, lost, bald man begs for help and direction. It was clear. I only had one option. Since I'm a man, and I can't stop to ask for help, I simply had to go home, face the court, deliver the other million dollars worth of groceries, get instruction, and then return to the store for that one elusive package, or the three packages, of eight-ounce, chopped, Green Giant onions.
As I moved through the checkout line, dejected, demoralized, from not being able to complete my task, I looked around the store. And what did I see? To my amazement, in every aisle, stood at least one more man doing his household a favor. And more, every one of them was on a cell phone, getting instructions, in the middle of the aisle, straight from the commander-in-chief herself. Cell phone in the grocery store. These men had outsmarted me. I was unarmed. I was helpless. There they all stood, cool and calm, chatting on their cell phones, each one safe in the knowledge that he wouldn't have to make a single decision for himself. Cell phones in the grocery store. Cell phones in restaurants. Cell phones in cars. Cell phones in the middle of meetings. Cell phones in the middle of recording gospel reflections. Cell phones in the middle of intimate, personal conversations. Cell phones in the middle of mass. I mean, are we really that busy? Unfortunately, the answer to that appears to be yes, we are that busy. We're always chatting, always accessible, always checking in, always in touch. And we are so, so proud of it.
I think that's what Jesus is trying to help us understand with Mary and Martha today. Don't you? Martha is not a bad person. She's not the enemy. She's just overwhelmed with noise, and with life, and probably with cell phones. "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things. One thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion." She's just like you and me, if we're not careful. I mean, I met a fellow the other day who shared that his marriage was being impacted by the fact that his job required him to work 75 hours a week. I met folks on a mission trip who had to stop every day at the internet cafe in a third world country to check their emails because it just couldn't wait a day. I mean, everywhere I go, CNN, ESPN, it's on every channel. I mean, it's everywhere. You can even watch CNN while you're pumping gas at the gas station. And they've all got five things going on the screen at the same time, so in case whatever they have on isn't interesting enough. I can get the weather in San Antonio, get the score of the Black Hawks game, find out what Cisco is selling for, get the headlines from the Boise Gazette, and watch Wolf Blitzer talk all at the same time. I want all my information, any possible infinitesimal kind, and I want it now. We're too busy. We're over-connected, distracted with so much information, we have no time for formation.
And too often, we're spiritually empty. We scurry about to keep ourselves busy and full, only to discover that the busier and fuller we get, the more frantic and empty we feel. Why? Because hurry and busyness may be the most dangerous enemies of your spiritual life. When you're too busy, you have no time to love God. To love God takes time. It takes energy. It takes passion. And it takes stillness. So allow me to share with you three practical ways to rediscover Jesus right in the middle of your busyness as it threatens to swallow you whole, torn from Mary in the gospel today.
One. Read the Gospels. 15 minutes a day. Or maybe, just read the gospel reading for mass each day. Read the Gospel each day. Number two. Deny yourself. Find one simple, small way to deny yourself each day. Or three, spontaneous prayer. Talk to Jesus. Just talk to Jesus about the events of your day, right as they're unfolding. Pick one, and step away from your busyness, and directly into the presence of God.