Weary? Take a timeout for sacred idleness.

Sep 24, 2021, 8:08 PM | Updated: Sep 27, 2021, 10:22 am
A woman taking time to stop and smell the roses.

A woman taking time to stop and smell the roses. (Stock-Pexels)

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

From a pandemic to political divisions to the challenges of daily life, Americans are feeling tired and weary. We could use some rest — but a different kind of rest.

“Certainly work is not always required of a man. There is such a thing as a sacred idleness, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected.”

— 19th century Scottish author George MacDonald

Now that’s pretty incredible. Mr. McDonald felt way way back in the 1800s. That society was moving too fast, that we were missing too much, and that we were manufacturing way too much stress in our lives in the process. What would he say about today’s society?

The weariness we’ve seen evolve over the last couple of years is a weariness of both body and mind that I don’t think disappears with a good night’s rest. The discouragement and despair deepens as the day goes on.

What is sacred idleness?

Let’s define sacred idleness. It is not a justification for self-indulgence, for laziness or for narcissism. It is also not escaping reality. It’s not about mindlessly watching TV or scrolling through your social media feed for hours on end. It’s not about sleeping late. It is not a justification for doing whatever feels good. 

So what is it? I once heard sacred idleness and real rest described as the energizing joy, peace and satisfaction that comes from making a difference. Time set aside for loved ones and time for self-reflection are two examples of sacred idleness. It does not necessarily equate to religion or spirituality, though it often does. It does for me.

Renew, rejuvenate and restore

All those activities that give you energy back, those are sacred things, and making them a priority is important for us. Sacred idleness is often an opportunity to rest (see included photo), not the lying-in-a-hammock sort of thing.

But we need to rest from our weariness or from the people who make us weary. Sometimes that’s family, the boss or colleagues. Sometimes our weariness is self-induced.

We have so many things in our days that drain energy from us. Sacred idleness is about pursuing small moments that give you energy back. Sometimes that means taking time for self, which can be rewarding and rejuvenating.

Pull plug on work time

Do we really have to check our email before we go to bed? Do we really need to make sure that everything is clear on Instagram or Facebook before we go to sleep or the first thing when we get up in the morning. I don’t think we do.

One of my sacred idleness moments that I love is getting a shoeshine at the airport. I love that; that is magic time for me. I have a moment to just sit there and be there.

If you’re feeling a little weary today, if you’re unable to sustain your daily pursuits, if you’re just worn out a little bit, it may be worth it to set aside time for a moment of rejuvenating rest and sacred idleness.


Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app. 

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Weary? Take a timeout for sacred idleness.