Saturday, August 11, 2012

Life Wide Open

We are transitioning from the laziness of summer to the hustle and bustle of a new school year.  I always look forward to settling into a routine, but that settling part can sometimes get hairy.  I've been thinking recently of the beauty of a regularity.  I love the bones of a schedule that gives structure to my days, allowing me to hang my creativity in the most advantageous minutes of my day.  This free spirit self that I am needs the order.  It helps me enjoy every moment without guilt:  "oh yes, this is the time given to quiet contemplation; I can be present in this moment because the need to attend to the details of our lives can be attended to in that moment there."

When I taught University Experience (a freshman seminar class designed to help first year college students adjust to college life) I always had my students complete a time chart first thing.  It was a simple gragh with days of the week across the top and twenty four hours down the side.  I encouraged them to color blocks of time according to their various activities.  They were to include communiting time, class time, study time, family time, and yes, party time.  Then they had to reflect on what they learned from the experience.  And every year I also completed one too.

I always learned something.

You would think that year after year, there would be no new insights.  But there were.  As I completed my own time chart I could see how my stated priorities often differed from the way I spent my time.  Actually coloring my time as I committed my schedule to paper created a simple accountability that helped me see more clearly, helped me answer the question, "Is this how I really want to be spending my time?"

I have the need to get the crayons out again.

Somehow it helps me to see my life colored in--the sections of responsibility dancing with the passions and simple pleasures of my "mommified" life.  And to know that rest always comes.  At the close of each day, rest is there waiting for me.

What do you think?  Want to try it?

I know it doesn't seem to be a deeply spiritual exercise.  But I tend to differ.  I think it is significant in the most important way.  It gives us the chance to live deliberately.  Because we can color in our lives as they are.  Or we can consciously choose to color them the way we truly want them to be.  First on paper, then in real time.

As Tim & I were waiting in Walmart with the boys today, an older woman sitting by the door began a conversation with me.  Jeremiah was pulling on me, tugging, running back and forth in front of the doors, and oh my goodness I must fetch him!  She said I had such wonderful boys.  She said they were blessings.  I agreed of course.  And then she told me of her own children, how they loved each other so as children.  She told me that everyday she told them, "You have to be good to each other, because we are not promised tomorrow."  She told me that although they would have their moments, they were best friends.  Then she told me her daughter had died.  She still had her son and his children, but her daughter was gone.  She explained how her son was so mad at God for taking his sister away.  A year passed, and then he came to her one day and said, "This is that tomorrow you were talking about isn't it."  She said it took him a year to realize it, but he finally did.  As we parted, we blessed each other.  Literally the words were coming out of our mouths at the same time:  "God bless you." 

And we are so blessed.

And that is why mapping my time is deeply spiritual for me.  I don't want to waste a moment.  I don't want to wake up one day and think, "Oh God! I wish I had spent my time doing---loving---helping---holding---hoping---being!!!!"  I want to think now.  I want to wake up now, before the time is past, while I still have the power to change the way I spend my day.

I want to live my life with eyes wide open and arms wide open and heart stretched wide open.

Oh sweet LORD I do want to take it all in--

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