For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:8-10

Social distancing is a challenge!

Part of our problem is that many of us feel compelled to be productive. We are works oriented. We want to save ourselves.

This comes from within and without. Within lies the need for self-validation — through doing.

I’ve become habituated to that hard-driving motive to constantly do. Maybe you too. Our house is currently sparklingly clean, floors dusted, toilets cleaned, dishes done and put away, garage organized, weeds pulled from the garden. It makes sense. Order. Beauty. Activity. Busyness. And “I’ve got to do something so I don’t go stir crazy! I need to list at least a few things I’ve accomplished by the end of the day as I fall asleep!”

Yesterday, I scraped the grass out of cracks in the driveway. Scraping — for sanity! I also trimmed my toenails and listed that as one of my big three before I went to sleep. Clippings, to prevent an existential vacuum.

It’s okay. Looks better. The driveway. My toes. I did something! Hope the grass and my nails grow back so I can get after them again soon!

The other thing driving us toward productivity is from beyond the borders of our rooms and yards. It’s them.

I think; maybe you think, “Everyone else must be happier and more adaptive and creative and productive than me! What the heck are they up to?”

And you can find out.

Everywhere online are articles and videos on things to do during the coronavirus lockdown! Even I wrote one! There are the videos of people doing all kinds of cool and unique stuff — working from home, jumping jacks, singing out of their windows, video-chatting, baking, cooking, writing books, alphabetizing their sock drawers.

But this morning listening to a podcast on this issue I heard one woman ask a salient question, “Can’t I just stay in my sweatpants and be anxious?”

Yes! You can!

We workaholics, busy addicts, taskaphiles, list-mongers, chore-junkies, job-hounds, project-freaks, efficiency-peddlers and hobby-jobbies — we need to revisit the value of non-productive leisure.

What about the virtue of salutary sloth? What about the value of productive inertia? Robust indolence? Salvific slackardification? Curative lethargy? Goofoffery? Layaboutery? Or perhaps — meditation anyone?

We have often been preached the virtues of slowing down. Now is our moment, now is our opportunity. This the age of the pandemic flaneur. This is our opportune moment to find balance between doing and being.

Yes, do stuff. Especially to connect with and to care for others. Especially what God made you to do.

But also, could we for a time just be for a while?

Yes.

Be.

Just take a moment to — be.

Take a time out when you don’t have to prove anything or be somebody special to justify your existence or impulsively busy your body so that you don’t have to think about who you are and what makes you valuable and lovable even when you’re not preductable.

I love you, you idleness-experts, loafing gourmands, shiftlessness devotees, aficionados torpid, grace addicts, mercy-mongers, love gurus.

Teach us grace!

Teach us a sweet-potent, leisurely-vigorous, lethargic-salvific contentment.

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