Transitions and Time
Almost a month ago I left my full-time desk job to have more space in my mind, heart, and schedule in general, and especially to be able to give more attention to Beloved Everybody Church and to experiment and figure out what this ability-inclusive movement might become. An intentional choice to be poorer in money, but richer in time and space (a choice I realize is not open to everyone - but I am working to do the best with the options I have, to steward resources and life in a way that feels faithful and in line with where the Spirit is leading).
One thing I was really looking forward to was simply a different pace of life. Working a full-time desk job (and another part-time job, and starting a church, and launching a book, and moving, and wanting to be a connected spouse, friend, mentor, etc.) meant that I woke up, jumped in the shower, got dressed, got ready in kind of a hurry, got coffee or breakfast to have in the car or in front of my computer checking email when I got to work. It was a routine geared toward efficiency and productivity. And within this, I recognized a craving for more presence, for a different way to start my day that didn't involve tasks and rushing. (For those of you who can wake up early and have a time of prayer or meditation or reading and be super present before you go to your full-time job, props to you. But that wasn't something I could ever get the hang of.) So the idea of starting the morning slowly - to make some coffee, have some time of silence and prayer, to read a thoughtful book - all of that sounded AMAZING and what I deeply needed to be able to live the rest of my life in a more present, loving, grounded way.
So when the first day came that I didn't have to go to work, I thought I would automatically fall into this centered, slow pace of life. Well, first of all, I got a respiratory infection that pretty much knocked me out for 2+ weeks right after I left the job (some people say it was the stress leaving my body after being overextended for several months, some say it was my body asserting its need for rest, and also I was around some sick people...maybe it was all three of those things). But still, when time came to be able to have a slower morning of silence, reflection, prayer, reading - it was actually kind of hard to do it. I found myself feeling itchy for productivity and kind of antsy in general. And then I became very critical of myself for not immediately becoming the grounded, centered beacon of God's love that I wanted to be.
I realized that being in a routine of busyness for the last 5 years really formed me - and it got into my spirit, mind, and body. And it was going to take time to extricate those values and impulses and to be able to actually slow down and be present for longer stretches. It made me think about a prayer by the Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin that my spouse had as his computer wallpaper for a while.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability - and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you. Your ideas mature gradually – let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.
Such a good word, especially in this moment for me.
I'm also in the process of re-reading John Swinton's book Becoming Friends of Time: Disability, Timefullness, and Gentle Discipleship - a perfect book for this transition into a more present, slower way of engaging myself, others, and the world around me. Expect (many) more quotations from this book in future blog entries (blogging is apparently becoming part of my new routine) - but for now, as I'm thinking about the slow work of God and wanting to be patient and trust it, I think about this quote by Kosuke Koyama, quoted in this Swinton book, "Forty years in the wilderness points to [God's] basic educational philosophy."
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that God's hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.