John of Ruysbroeck on Busyness and Spiritual Death

The medieval mystic John of Ruysbroeck (c.1293 – 1381) has this insightful passage on the “fever” of busyness:

The first kind is called the quotidian fever. It is a multiplicity of the heart; for these men wish to know all things, and to speak of all things, and to criticise and to judge all things, and meanwhile they often fail to observe themselves. They are weighed down by many strange cares; they must often hear what they do not like; and the least thing troubles them. Their thoughts are restless; first this, then that, first here, then there; they are like to the winds. This is a daily fever; for they are troubled, and busied, and in multiplicity, from morning until evening, and sometimes in the night also, whether they sleep or wake. Though this may exist in a state of grace and without mortal sin, yet it hinders inwardness and inward practices and takes away the taste of God and of all virtues. And this is an eternal loss. (Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage, Book II, Chapter 32)

And he lived in the 14th century. Lord preserve us.

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