Often we are not present to people because we are basically slothful. This is the opposite of what our culture thinks. Busyness seems in our society to be a badge of honor; that we are so busy proves how important we are. But Eugene Peterson calls it an "enemy of spirituality" and "essentially laziness," for "It is doing the easy thing instead of the hard thing. It is filling our time with our own actions instead of paying attention to God's actions. It is taking charge."
This is a rebuke that I constantly need. Do you? Do we realize that much of our busyness is not really godly activity? Peterson clarifies, "spirituality is not the absence of activity. You either enter into what God is doing or you don't." Busy people are lazy person "because they are not doing what they are supposed to do."
The Peterson quotes are from his Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work. I've been troubled lately by the fact that most people I know, including myself, when asked, "How are you?", answer, "It's been busy lately." This doesn't really address how we are. It's not sharing of ourselves. I'd add to Marva's insight that being busy shows how important we are. It is also a way of protecting ourselves, setting up a wall between us and others. We're busy = we're inaccessible, we don't really have time for all this chatter about how we are.
This is proved by the fact that when someone says, "I'm busy, how about you?" it is almost a challenge back. Their real question is, "Are you busy also?" Notice that no one ever says, "I've got lots of time on my hands. Really, not much going on lately." So busyness gets in the way of spirituality and relationship (two closely related things).