This week’s video focuses on remaining in the present moment. This means avoiding dwelling on the past which we cannot change and anxiously awaiting the future which distracts us from the moment we are in.
Chiara Lubich, who I reference in the video, explained living in the present moment as being on a train. Once the train starts, you can’t make it travel backward, even by walking to the back and gazing longingly at the fading station. You can only go forward. Similarly, you can’t make the train get to your destination faster, even by walking the length of the train to the front and pressing your nose to the glass. You can only be exactly where you are in that moment. The train is outside of your control.
Life is similar. We only occupy this space in this moment. Unless you have the spiritual gift of bilocation, I suppose. I do not possess this gift.
Expanding on this idea, if we only have this moment, then we should fill it with as much as possible. Right?
Multitasking is a feat many moms pride themselves on. Let’s see just how much I can juggle today without all the plates crashing to the floor is a game I often play. There’s a lot to get done in one day and often, it feels like not enough time to do it all in. So, we multitask. Sometimes this works out really well, the laundry got folded and at the same time I was able to have a heart to heart phone conversation with a friend. Other times, dinner ends up burned because I was also trying to help a child with their piano practice, finish folding the laundry that got started in the morning, hear about a science project and meet the demands of a noisy 1 year old who is as fickle as they come.
I recently read a quote by Peter Kreeft in his book, Christianity for Modern Pagans, that is thought provoking in regards to multitasking:
“We want to complexity our lives. We don’t have to, we want to. We want to be harried and hassled and busy. Unconsciously, we want the very things we complain about. For if we had leisure, we would look at our selves and listen to our hearts and see the great gaping hole in our hearts and be terrified, because that hole is so big nothing but God can fill it.”
Oh boy. How often do I complain, to myself or others, that I’m just too busy? Often. How often do I sit down to critically think about our schedule, the activities we are engaged in, and how much time we have to accomplish everything on the list? Less than often.
Something the Holy Spirit has been working in me is an awareness of “wasted time.” In a multitasker’s world, nothing is worse than wasted time. 30 seconds of non-productivity here, shocking! 5 minutes of wasted time in the grocery line, the horror! Imagine how much I could have gotten done if I only had green lights on the way to x, y, or z! I think you know what I’m talking about. Some days, I have this attitude so intensely swaying my thoughts I get mad at myself for not knitting enough rows while watching TV, what a slacker! All of these are completely ridiculous and in truth, I have thought them all.
Yet, none of these examples are bringing me closer to Jesus. They make me anxious, annoyed, unpleasant to be around, and generally crabby. They are not life-giving. The truly wasted time is the time I spend wallowing in my perceived lack of productivity instead of relishing the gifts God has given me.
God does not desire for us to fill every moment of every day with work, production, or action. That is not the example He gave us. Work hard, yes. But rest well in complement. That means, waste time! Another way I’ve heard this described is to create white space. White space, like the white space on a paper, isn’t filled with plans, activities, to-do lists, etc. It’s blank, open for possibility. It’s time for play, for prayer, for walks, for reading, for laying in a hammock and listening to birds, it’s meditation, it’s phone calls that don’t include laundry folding or dinner making, it’s fill in the blank because that space is open for anything!
Be on the look out for how you can find some white space. It doesn’t need to be whole afternoons of skipping through daisies. Perhaps it is as small as including 5 extra minutes at the breakfast table to savor your coffee instead of downing it in 2 gulps. Make that cup of tea you are craving in the evening but still have your to-do list running in your head. Say yes to a walk, even if it’s just once around the block. Pause and pray when you are prompted, instead of thinking you’ll remember later. These aren’t wasted minutes, these are what make a life well-lived.