The quote above from Stephen W. Smith is in my planner for today. Each Sunday there is a quote about Sabbath with lots of space to journal or reflect about the quote. This one, in particular, really jumped out at me. Always on, always available, always busy. I feel like this is a description of my life and my ministry. Going against these “always,” as best I can, for the last month has been a challenge. I miss knowing what’s going on with the families at my church, but I’m learning to find gratitude for the time apart. I miss being the go-to person, but I’m learning to find gratitude in the quiet phone and lack of texts.
Yesterday we went to a college football game. One of my students from church is in the marching band. I debated back and forth about texting her to see her face, to hug her. Finally, I decided to text her. However, she wasn’t in the band yesterday – a few weeks ago she was in a car accident and got a concussion. Not only is she not marching, she’s also not in classes most days. I had no idea this was going on in her life – I immediately thought about her mom and dad, her sister, her roommate. I had a hard time getting her face out of my mind. And then, it dawned on me – that is why I can’t be in touch with these families during my time apart. There’s a reason I set boundaries for them and for me. There’s a reason I blocked them on Facebook and Instagram. There’s a reason I took my work email off my phone and computer. If I connect, even for just a quick text, I’m immediately pulled back into their lives. I can pray for her, now that I know what she’s going through, but had I respected the boundaries I created, the boundaries I knew I needed, I wouldn’t know – for better or worse.
So, yes, always on is something that feels real to me. I’m finding gratitude for the separation because there are parts of me I’m able to turn off – parts that have been on for years, parts that have never had a break or a chance to breathe. My spiritual director told me about a friend who worked on very large equipment that contained fans – this equipment filled large rooms. Every now and then they would have to turn these machines off, but because of the force that the fans created, it would take weeks for the fans to stop even after the machine had been turned off. Weeks for a fan to come to a complete stop. It takes time to slow down, to breathe, to rest. My mind is slowing but surely learning how to do this. With morning quiet time and yoga twice a week and naps and slow walks and planting bulbs, I’m learning.
I often feel like I need to be productive all the time. However, learning that naps and rest and slow walks are productive is a gift. Technology, like my FitBit, which can be beneficial, often cause us to do more when rest is needed, fret when calm is necessary. I’m happy to be protesting, even though, like most protests do, it does cause me discomfort now and then.