Slower

Purpose
____________
Living in grace

open arms, looking forward

a flower unfurling gently

a light and hopeful spirit

quietly stepping

softly moving

a path clear, a heart of understanding

with steady, certain movements

presence of mind, a sweet surrender

a knowing, walking quiet through

time and tide, ebb and flow

into stillness
___________
stillness into

flow and ebb, tide and time

through quiet walking, knowing a

sweet surrender, a mind of presence

movements certain, steady with

understanding of heart, a clear path

 a moving softly

stepping quietly

spirit hopeful and light

a gently unfurling flower

a forward looking, arms open

grace in living

“Distraction is, always has been, and probably always will be, inherent in woman’s life. For to be a woman is to have interests and duties, raying out in all directions from the central mother-core, like spokes form the hub of a wheel. The pattern of our lives is essentially circular. We must be open to all points of the compass: husband,children, friends, home, community; stretched out, exposed, sensitive like a spider’s web to each breeze that blows, to each call that comes. How difficult for us then, to achieve a balance in the midst of these contradictory tensions, and yet how necessary for the proper functioning of our lives. How much we need, and how arduous of attainment is that steadiness preached in all rules for holy living. How desirable and how distant is the idea of the contemplative, artist, or saint – the inviolable core, the single eye. With a new awareness, both painful and humorous, I begin to understand why the saints were rarely married women…The bearing, rearing, feeding and educating of children; the running of a house with its thousand details; human relationships with their myriad pulls – woman’s normal occupations in general run counter to creative life, or contemplative life, or saintly life…how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off centre; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel.” (Anne Morrow Lindbergh, “Gift from the Sea”)

SAM_0232

My older is son is writing his final  matric exams this month. He chose to remain at home (we educated our sons at home from the time they were in Grade One) when our younger son decided he’d rather go to school, at the beginning of Grade Nine. I decided that I wanted to pare down my activities for the time he’d be writing. I did this not only so that I would be home more, but because I knew that doing less would help me to have more mental focus too. It’s never easy for me to say no (although it’s easier than it used to be). But I did find that it was quite easy to decide what I would put on hold for a few weeks. Having to make choices about my time, created an opportunity for me to get in touch with what is most important right now. It’s not always easy to see this, or to act on it even when I do. I feel so bound to keep saying yes to things, good things, even when there are sometimes better, more essential things that need my attention. I remember a friend saying years ago, that when you try to make everything (or everyone) important, the result is that nothing (and no-one) is. For years I have bought into the idea that I have to do it all, and that I can do it all. The problem is not that I don’t see the impossibility of that notion. You don’t have to think about it for long at all to see that choices have to be made, that “no” has to become a word you are very comfortable with. It’s that deep inside us (especially as women) there is a conviction, a sense that this is what we are expected to do, that this is who we are meant to be. And that if we start setting boundaries, that we are somehow failing in our fundamental identity and role in the world. This conviction often sabotages my intentions to simplify, to do less and be more available to the people and activities that resonate with my sense of purpose and calling. I am also very good at comparing myself to others; I look at the women who seem to do so much more than I do, who are apparently so comfortable in roles and responsibilities that are overwhelming to me, and I feel inadequate. Add to this the weight of expectation created by church, community and friends, and it’s not long before I have convinced myself that saying no and bowing out is unacceptable and self-absorbed. In my heart of hearts I know what is important. I know what feeds my soul and makes me a blessing in the world. When I reflect on these things; when I think about living a life with that kind of integrity, a quiet seeps into my being. I feel at peace. It’s not that I want only to do what is easy; some of those things are hard and challenge me. But there is a sense that in them, I am living into the unique shape of my place in the story God is telling.

These past few weeks, as I’ve lived with a different rhythm, I’ve felt so much better. I didn’t realise the extent to which my habits were wearing away at my sanity and peace of mind. I have not been careful; I have not been mindful of the importance of honouring the particular gifts and capacities that are mine. This little season has opened my eyes to the power of honestly evaluating what I can and can’t do. It means that I will be making some changes, and I know that not everyone will understand. But that’s okay, because the people that need me most will get more of me, more of the best of me, rather than the leftovers. I will have more time and energy to invest in the things that I believe God is calling me to. I came across a lovely quote the other day; it was an answer to a prayer I had just prayed, asking God to help me to know what he wanted me to do. That morning I was feeling particularly torn between doing what I knew I wanted and needed to do, and what I felt the expectations and opinions of others demanded of me. These words were a balm; I hope you feel encouraged by them:

Lord, today I take my eyes off anyone else’s assignment and I thank you for the beauty of mine. (Suzie Eller)

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