I remember something to the effect of “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop” being said in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie — and also something about how on Sundays they had to sit and be still and not do any work.
I don’t know much about the devil and what he does in his spare time, but I think we could all us a little more idleness these days. We live in a crazy busy world where the only agenda is to not be busy. Many people can’t even stand silence, let alone having nothing to do.
Of course, in the olden days, I mean way, way olden—like before even my time, there was quiet time scheduled into almost everyone’s day—at least according to Wilder’s stories; there seemed to be.
So recently, when my laptop needed a Windows update that required several minutes, and I had just set the time until dinner was ready to be served, I found myself in the strange world of no television, no radio, and no child in the house.
I began to wonder why quiet and stillness are not appreciated anymore these days.
At first it felt a little awkward, then the cats came and joined me. Fourteen-year-old Sir Eats-A-Lot snuggled up on my shoulder per usual, and Schatzie, the three-year-old, down by my leg. In a couple of moments I started to treasure the alone time, which had been rather scarce the previous week or so.
I had the ‘Grampa Kitty’ purring, and the little one scritch-scratching with her tongue on me and the blanket as she bathed herself thoroughly. An occasional click of the oven thermostat as it kept the temperature steady, and the steady click of my battery operated living room clock.
There was a faint rumble of a semi traveling by on N. Saginaw (I live in Mt. Morris) and looking through the picture window I could just barely see it outlined in the dark and the fog by the streetlights and St. Mary’s church parking lot.
Then the church bells pealed softly through the fog as well, always a welcome noise and one of the things I first loved about this apartment. I also heard the crunch of gravel as the neighbor pulled in the driveway, as well as a thump from the apartment on the other side.
I have a Christmas tradition of the first night the tree is lit, of spending the night bathed in the glow of just its lights. It’s Dec. 7 as I write this and I still have only a single strand of lights in the window, but probably like a lot of single parents, I have been far too busy to decorate.
So this Christmas Eve, whether you consider the night holy or not, maybe take a few minutes of your time and just sit quietly. If you have young ones, this might be hard, but you could make it a game of “Guess what noise that is” or something similar—even using notepads to maintain the hush.
And maybe, alone with your own private thoughts, make a wish, or say a prayer, whichever you prefer, and wish for that peace to extend beyond yourself— to your family, your extended family, your friends and neighbors…and dare I hope? To the world. Best wishes for a New Year. firstname.lastname@example.org