"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Stuck in Go

By Micky Wolf

“Maybe you could go to the park and take a walk? Or sit on your porch and soak up the sunshine? Oh—you could grab a cone before the custard stand closes for the year?”


That was it? “Eh.”

I’ve lived long enough to know most people appreciate kind and compassionate counsel—especially when they specifically ask for it. Maybe that was my mistake in the case of the aforementioned exchange, near the end of a conversation with a friend. However, as we shared our good-byes and hung up, I couldn’t help but feel a bit sad. Why?

Life in the fast lane. No, make that traveling at the speed of a whirring blur around the oval track of life most every day. We have certainly been indoctrinated with the importance of being busy, endlessly occupied with various and sundry tasks. Even those in Christian ministry struggle with the demons of busy, more busy, and really, really busy. Add to the mix numerous admonitions from well-intentioned folks that idle hands and minds can be the devil’s workshop and we are pretty much convinced anything resembling goofing off is for the lazy or little children. 

Somewhere along the way we have taken on the notion that being responsible and loving is mostly about being able to produce and create something concrete. That in order to be viewed a “good person”, especially as a Christian, we have to be doing something which will result in a quantifiable outcome.

Jesus modeled for us that getting away from the crowds to be with the Father in prayer is crucial to our overall health and well being. He also provided us with a fair number of examples of resting; relaxing and engaging in the “P” word—play. He attended weddings, full-spread banquets, and traditional Jewish celebrations. And I dare say he wasn’t turning water into wine at every one of them. 

So, how we can get unstuck—or minimize the go, go, go race in the first place—without making relaxation and play another process of do-ing?

Taking time to unwind and relax—takes time

Even the cloistered contemplatives are required to take time away from work. And if this time looks and sounds like play, all the better. However, just as you can’t stop a race car flying along at 175 miles per hour in an instant, you can’t expect, as an active, involved human being with duties and commitments, to drop into a chair and immediately switch gears. It. Takes. Some. Time.

It is of little surprise that being productive has so permeated our thinking and way of life we believe we should be able to clear our minds or physical work space in the blink of an eye—and certainly before we allow ourselves time to relax.

What if we gave ourselves permission to view unwinding and relaxing as precious opportunities to savor life and be in the moment, regardless of what is going on in, or around us? And in the process, what if we began to realize the fragments of thoughts or feelings that finally have room to emerge are exactly the things through which we more fully hear the still small voice of God longing to communicate with us? 

Breaking away from the usual activity and routine opens us to exciting new possibilities, all of which can be used by God to bless us with new insights, peace, and creativity. In letting go of the I –have-to-be-busy-mentality, we are often surprised how, through simply ‘playing’, the solutions or direction we have been working so hard to achieve or understand has been there all along.

Staying in go—could make for a goner

God never intended for his human creations to live in constant motion, ergo Divine attention and intention in creating the seventh day, specifically for worship and rest. We usually understand the importance of the first part, the second, not so much. 

How many people simply make Sunday another work day, vaguely disguised as going to the ball park or dining out, all the while staying connected to tasks or projects by way of cell phones, tablets, laptops and so forth?

Additionally, while the deck or backyard is great place to linger over a meal or take a quick snooze, getting away for several hours or a day can do wonders for your attitudes and perceptions. If you consider a mini-getaway as an opportunity for nourishing and refreshing your whole person, you will soon wonder how you ever survived—or thrived—without them. Keep it simple: pick a point on the map, a reasonable distance from home, scout out a couple of play-venture options, and take off. 

Beyond that?—make the choice to not fret over every little detail. How many times do we turn what could be relaxing and fun into another kind of task to complete in a certain amount of time?

We may admire those who ‘die with their boots on’ as the ultimate achievers. Yet, we need to ask ourselves the question—will it really be worth it in the end if work and achievement became my gods? Or I end up falling into an early grave because having some fun and playing seemed unimportant in the bigger picture? 

God leaves little doubt our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. That ought to be incentive enough to take care of it.
Does the idea of rest and relaxation seem like an “eh” to you? Why?

Do you measure your productivity and effectiveness by the hour? 

The length of your to-do list and the number of items with check marks?

Is shifting out of stuck-in-go long overdue? 

How do you feel at the suggestion to take time to play?


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