Sunrise over the Rappahannock River
Life is so busy, isn’t it? We run here and there—work, home, school, children, errands, entertainment, church. There is always something that needs attention. Or we need to catch up with our friends and followers on social media. Or catch the latest movie. Or make sure to tidy the garden before the first frost. Or the million other things we need or want to do.
So many times I run like a hamster on a wheel to do everything required. Between my responsibilities at work and home, there is little or no breathing space left in the schedule. Mail and newspapers alone can get out of control quickly. I need to cut back plants and weed the garden, as well as run errands and help my husband with needed paperwork. Then there are the untidy closets and drawers, beckoning for me to come and sort things out, to donate and discard, and to tidy them so that we don’t wasting precious minutes, wading through junk.
I want time to read for fun or edification so I try to carve out time for reading every day. Creating a new blog post or working on a book I’m trying to write also take time. I’d like to get back to knitting and sewing and make curtains for the bare windows in my book room.
I spend precious time in the kitchen, cooking meals for the family, baking food for them and others in need, and endless cleaning up after those many meals and snacks.
If I do everything I need to do, never mind want to do, I notice I’m running myself ragged, like a piece of rope, frayed until worn to only the merest thread holding it together. I feel like that piece of rope all too often, and I know why I do. It’s because, in all of my to-do lists and musts, I have forgotten to stand and stare.
Have you read Leisure by William Henry Davies? I don’t remember when I first read it, but it resonated so strongly that I have never forgotten it.
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
Do we make time to stand and stare? Do we make time to:
- look at the beauty of a sunrise or sunset instead of fleetingly glancing out our car windows as we rush off to the next appointment
- pause by a rose bush and touch the pale pink petals while inhaling the sweet scent of a newly opened bud
- walk through the dew-drenched grass in the early morning and listen to the birdsong echoing all around us, praising the God who made the world
- sit on the porch during a thunderstorm and watch the lightning and streaming rain from a place of safety, but open to the wind and sound
- look at the sunlight streaming in the windows over a table with a stack of books and a teacup, full of hot tea, waiting for us to stop and take a sip, then another and another while inhaling the steam and cradling the warm bowl of the cup in our hands
- sit quietly in the evening with a glass of wine or water, meditating on the past day and thinking about all the little things for which we are grateful
- spend a few moments every day in thanksgiving for the simple pleasures, which are all around us and so easy to find if we choose to look
Do you take time to stand and stare? Or do you, like I, forget that life is so much more than busyness and obligations and duties and shoulds and oughts? How many times do we forget that sometimes it is our business is to be quiet, to wait, to wonder, to meditate, and to think great thoughts? Let’s not spend this precious life merely racing from day to day without standing and staring and noticing our surroundings.
How do we make the time though? With so many people needing us and tasks set before us, how do we turn away from the neediness of our worlds?
I don’t have all the answers but I think that if we want to meet the needs of those around us, we will do it better if we have a regular time to stand, to think, to plan, to wonder, to understand the whys of what we do rather than just throw ourselves headlong, to meditate on the truths of what we believe so that we can more fully follow through on those beliefs.
It is easier, for sure, to rush through life without thinking. But join me in rebelling against that hamster-wheel type existence. Stand. Stare. Look. Think. Enjoy.
Life will be richer and more full of joy and wonder if you and I take the time each day, if only for a moment or two, to stand and stare.