when a groove is not the same as a rut

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The chief beauty about time// is that you cannot waste it in advance//
The next year, the next day, the next hours are lying ready for you,//
as perfect, as unspoiled, as if you had never wasted or misapplied//
a single moment in all your life//
You can turn over a new leaf every hour// if you choose.
//Arnold Bennett//

Somehow I have misplaced a full month of writing in this place.

I could easily explain the days and weeks away by saying I didn’t have time.

Getting used to the structure of work and dealing with several bouts of lingering

illness caused me to live my days in survival mode.

But in my absence, I have been reflecting on time.

Most mornings, I jump in my car and race down the freeway towards my

place of employment.

I have determined the amount of time I need to get from point a to point b.

Yet there are days when my car’s speed is quickly halted.

My steering wheel grip tightens and I glance at the clock.

Despite my best efforts, I have no control of what the lanes ahead will reveal.

A car crash may have occurred or a stalled car.

There could be a police car in view creating a renewed desire for drivers

to adhere to the rules of the road.

Often there is no other reason than many cars traveling at the same time.

No matter how much I wish, I can’t make the traffic move quicker although I would

like to believe my whispered prayers are mighty effective when the

revolutions of my wheels increase.

Mention traffic, weather or time in conversation and there is never

a shortage of opinions or more likely rolled eyes and sighs.

All three happen without our control.

Time has felt akin to traveling in a car with varying traffic patterns.

It seems no matter how I plan, time evaporates like being thrust

into a traffic jam, unable to change directions.

I wasted a lot of time talking about how little time I now had to

do all the things usually in my days.

This constant rehearsing created unease in my mind and in

my heart.

Mondays began with the renewed awareness of another week with

no time to spare.

This mindset was completely life draining and joy emptying

because I was consumed with my lack of resources.

Especially because I really like my job and the people I am

blessed to work with.

My days and time have simply been rearranged.

Then one morning, everything shifted as I was driving along.

I slammed on the brakes and the glare of red tail lights lit

up as far as I could see.

I didn’t sigh.

I didn’t look hurriedly at my clock.

I simply let my car idle

knowing it wouldn’t be motionless forever.

Forward movement resumed and I arrived

to my desk on time.

Week by week, I am learning a new groove.

15 minutes of book reading in the evening can be just

as satisfying as an hour.

Not having a week’s worth of meals planned

is not a crisis.

I begun to play around with how to have meaningful

devotions in the morning.

This had been the area which created the deepest

feelings of mourning.

I had felt very lonesome for time with my Father.

But slowly a rhythm has emerged and it has satisfied my longings.

Perhaps this week there will be a space for exercise.

And maybe my body clock will eventually awake earlier…maybe.

Hopefully the confetti thoughts wafting around my brain

will find their way to a journal or this blog from time to time.

You see a groove is not as deep as a rut.

A groove is the beginning of a pattern, a routine.

A rut is defined as a track worn by a wheel or by habitual passage.

A rut equals the deepening of a groove.

With every trip down the road, my groove

will gain depth and more familiarity.

Time may have changed dimensions but

doesn’t mean forfeited joy.

So what do you hear yourself rehearsing each week?

Is it something you fear is in short supply and has no

prospect of recovery?

Perhaps it’s time to cease clenching your

fists as you attempt to hold something you were

never designed to control.

Open wide your hands,

your heart

and your mind

and revel in how you can

best use what remains.

Take a deep breath

and let your car idle

until a new path

opens before you.

Then my friends,

travel the road

with freedom

and great joy

as you create deep

lasting ruts.

 

making up for lost time

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I have packed 3 suitcases in 4 weeks.

4 if you count Caleb’s suitcase.

It has been a month worth of trips devoted to celebration of family,

friendship and milestone birthdays.

On either side of the miles traveled,

there have been beautiful meals shared

in terrain where infant pears clung tightly to branches

and bobbing and weaving between bites as

white puffs of cottonwood  filled the

air like cotton candy.

Selfie attempts were warranted and perhaps unsuccessful.

My heart is saturated with people and  conversations

and with unblemished joy of being numbered among so many I cherish.

The sights my eyes have beheld continue to replay in my daydreams and

I marvel at the hushed utterances of such grace, such blessed and sacred

time.

After the bags were unpacked and laundry piles began to subside,

I did what I always do.

I made a list.

A list of all that needed to be done.

You know the list I am talking about.

The list called making up for lost time.

I wanted to accomplish some chores but I also wanted

to rest up and refuel.

Caleb was away visiting his Grands so my week

could be more concentrated on the multitude of tasks before

my eyes.

Each day I crossed off an item or two.

Most mornings, I set a later alarm.

After several days,

I felt more tired than when I stowed away

my luggage.

Then I read this:

Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day.
You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.

~Dallas Willard
(as quoted in this book)

Despite my efforts to keep my days one part productive

and the other part relaxation, my pace had been a

hurried rush.

I was trying to make up for lost time.

I live my days if I am always making up for lost time.

But what is lost time?

Would I consider a trip to see family,

lost time?

Would I ever tell a friend,

“Yes, let’s get together for coffee

even though it will mean I am losing

time according to my grand list of to-do’s” ?

No, it is called spending time with others.

It is all about adding priceless gems to our lives,

not squandering it.

There is no such thing as making up for lost time.

Time is continuous and is meant to be spent.

Making up for “lost time” is as futile as trying

to gather sand in your arms.

There is simply today and the minutes

we determine to use in the course of our day.

Seems I recall Jesus saying to let tomorrow take

care of itself.

Don’t hurry.

Don’t worry about that which remains undone.

Caleb comes home today.

(Oh how I miss that boy!)

The last few days have been different.

I have slowed down.

In case, I didn’t get the message, I also have

a troublesome knee which makes me take

each step with care and gratefulness.

So what is your hurry today?

What’s your worry?

There will never been an end to laundry and

cooking and bill paying.

There will be another weed to pull as soon as I loosen

ten roots.

I apologize for stating the facts.

As much as I dream,

I will never read every great book written.

There is today,

a gift to be used and not hoarded.

A gift to be cherished and celebrated.

Spend it well and don’t deem it as

moments that demand being redeemed later.

Simply cash in every second with sweet abandon.

 

photo credit: Carl Washington 

i no longer wear a watch

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The path to church last week was a series of closed streets, on-ramps and detours.

The need to assemble sometimes outweighs being late.

After the third re-routing, let’s be honest,

I started scouting for diners,

ready to trade in worship for feasting.

We were able to exhale once

Caleb was deposited to his class and

the four of us took our places in a nose bleed

worthy upper balcony pew.

We missed the first songs, testimony,

announcements and sitting where we had

become accustomed.

It took many twists and turns to sit in those seats.

We all have our own faith journeys.

I glance from time to time to sneak a peek

at my two daughters

and think of Caleb in the next building.

From the moment each one was laid in my arms,

I have been consumed with loving them beyond reason

and without end.

The loving part is not a challenge.

It’s every other part of the equation which proves difficult.

I have wanted to teach them every possible lesson for

every possible scenario.

I have wanted them to love each other deeply and count

it all joy to be brother and sisters,

well, at least most of the time.

I have wanted them to unearth their passions

and breath deeply into their dreams.

I have hoped hard that they would one day believe Carl

and I had been the parents they needed

and somehow forget

each misstep.

Far above anything, I have wanted them to love

God because His love for them defies reason and

has always been and always will remain.

I have held so tightly to these hopes like they were

wishes upon a dandelion fully in seed.

I have witnessed gentle and violent breezes send

the seeds spiraling into orbit.

At times I have tried to be God, with everything

that Helen could muster, I tried to line up these

three people’s lives to align the way I viewed

as just, right and acceptable.

Yet sitting there in that sky-high pew, my hands

release their choke hold on these three beloveds

of my heart and soul.

There will be detours and road blocks in this life,

in their lives,

in my life.

There will be sections of life when roads are

closed for repair.

The tarnished and scratched watch I have worn

displaying my timetable

has now been relinquished to my Maker,

to their Maker.

I have found Him trustworthy.

I have found Him without equal,

flawless in character.

90 minutes pass and we are cramming into what was once

my grandfather’s Buick navigating our way home.

A question is lobbed in Caleb’s direction about his time in class.

He chatters about God providing manna in the wilderness and

water from a rock to satisfy the Israelite’s hunger and thirst.

We all nod and uh-huh as we had heard the same

moments earlier.

A shared experience.

We had all known wilderness

and hunger

and thirst.

We had all journeyed on different pathways

yet as one family.

We all nod and uh-huh that God has been

faithful to provide manna every day

for every hunger pain.

He has provided water to satisfy

our penetrating thirsts.

He has never taken a break

from His post watching our flock.

Every road we traverse,

I can trust He is there,

watching,

patiently waiting

and possessing hope.

A bucket full of hope

large enough to empty

its contents over me,

displacing my fears and

worst case scenarios.

I drop my timepiece in His hands

and open my mouth

to shout but the sound is only

released in a whisper,

“They are all yours.

You can keep time.”

He assures me,

a hushed prayer is

His delight.