I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. They’d only be the same and always set me up for failure. Instead I choose a word for the year. It’s usually a word that’s been knocking around in my head the previous year. It’s born of conviction and is a slippery, elusive little devil. Last year my word was receive. It was in reference to the moments my camera craves – those transcendent moments received in quiet watchfulness that I could never create. In 2015 I waited and watched…but only with a camera in my hand and I rarely stayed there. My word for this year is linger.
Laundry, a full inbox, voicemails to return, errands to run, coffee with a friend, client work to edit and updates to my site – all that by school pick-up yesterday at 3:15pm. The hurry makes me hurt and numbs me to the fullness God begs me to receive each day. I feed off tasks but it’s the tasks that really eat me alive. What if I replaced the to-do list I’m enslaved to with a to-wait list? How much more living would I be doing?
Why do I voraciously read Facebook updates for 20 minutes and “uh-huh” my daughter’s 5 minute recounting of a book she read? Why do I pin someone else’s happily-ever-after when mine is standing in front of me with pleading eyes? I’ve read that “Parenting is this daily life detector test – it’s through the eyes of our children we read our own souls.” What are hers saying about me?
There’s a house down the street with a bright yellow plastic figure of a child in their yard that reads, “Slow, Children At Play.” Today’s sucker punch. I need one of those in every room of my house. I sit to play and am up 10 minutes later. We play a game but “just once”. Left unchecked, I’m a woman on a mission and in perpetual motion. I wage war on my task list and, too often, the people in my life are the casualties. Addicted to tasks and to speed, I blur moments into an unholy smear. Two little girls lean hard into me every day and the minutes pound faster….there’s a house and business to run and I don’t have time to slow down.
Time is the currency of our lives and only those who spend it well live life truly rich.
Think about that. What if every morning we had to literally buy our time for that day? If we had to spend on time what it’s truly worth, would we slow down…to wake up? In Chicago sit dear friends by the side of their 5 year-old son’s hospital bed. They linger there as days turn to months taking in every precious moment cancer can’t steal from them. They wade into those dark, ugly waters each day and slow the current of time by lingering…the weight of them all there. In most ways, and in their darkest hour they’re the ones really living and too often I’m the walking dead – lifeless, just going through hallow motions. They understand what I don’t want to understand too late. Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. There aren’t “take two’s” or “again!”. I’m given one life and asked to steward it well. People are the eternal wealth I must guard with my time and attention.
For 2016 I want more. I want to slow down and breath deep. I want to be the mamma who listens long, laughs hard and sees shimmering grace moments all around. The wife who drops her spoon in the pot to greet her husband at the door and later pushes back from her editing to ask about his day. I want to be the friend who rushes to your side and holds you in the silence because the hurt’s too much to bear alone. The photographer who keeps you and your husband under that tree bough until you’re so lost in each other, you forget I’m there. They say it takes 20 minutes from the time your belly is full for your brain to register satisfaction. How long will it take my soul to realize it’s already full and to stop? As in eating, I’m convinced the slower the living, the greater the sense of fullness and satisfaction.
And so this morning I bundle the girls, kiss Dave but – unlike other mornings – follow them out the door. I linger on the doorstep, delighting in the girl’s glee and muffled laughter inside the car they’ve locked Dave out of. He and I exchange smiles over the car before our little “hurry-busters” let him in. My whole world drives away and I breath in the cold morning air, marveling at dew sparkling on the still-green grass. All that grace unfurled – and I only had to step through the door to linger.