“A balanced life has a rhythm. But we live in a time, and in a culture, that encourages everyone to just move faster. I'm learning that if I don't take the time to tune in to my own more deliberate pace, I end up moving to someone else's, the speed of events around me setting a tempo that leaves me feeling scattered and out of touch with myself. I know now that I can't write fast; that words, my own thoughts and ideas, come to the surface slowly and in silence. A close relationship with myself requires slowness. Intimacy with my husband and guarded teenage sons requires slowness. A good conversation can't be hurried, it needs time in which to meander its way to revelation and insight. Even cooking dinner with care and attention is slow work. A thoughtful life is not rushed.”
Katrina Kenison The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother's Memoir
I used to really dislike January. It was such a let down following the glittering holiday season. What was there to celebrate about January? It seemed like a month of just waiting until Valentine's Day, until Spring returned and real life resumed its normal pace.
What was I thinking?
Since my boys have grown old enough to have plans and schedules of their own, I have increasingly found the lull offered by January days to be a balm to our busy family's soul. As Katrina expresses in the above quotation, a thoughtful life is not rushed. Rushing seems to be the predominant quality of most people's lives. We rush to and from school, errands, games, and even rush ourselves right out after church. To what? More rushing around? There is little time to stand still, turn and visit with the people who sit beside us in the pews every Sunday.
We move through our daily lives checking off the boxes on our to do list but rarely pausing long enough to make full eye contact, to converse beyond the hollow how are you?, to engage in the messy lives each of us live behind the rushing.
We complain to our friends that we have no time to make a healthy family dinner, no time to read the books stacked on our nightstands, no time to call loved ones and chat, no time to sit and savor the sunset.
For me, January has contradicted all that. The calendar pages, while still dotted with basketball practices and games, church meetings and school events, gleam back at me, brightly white and clean, begging me to fill them.
I have learned to resist.
Instead, I have taken the hint from our Church's return to Ordinary Time, to do the same. Ordinary time in my home means planning healthier meals and actually making them, reducing the need to run errands and spending less money overall. It's noticing the sunrise and the sunset, saying yes when a boy asks me for my full attention, putting down the phone, the remote, the mouse, the pen. It means folding the laundry and setting aside what is too small and worn out, purging the junk drawers, cleaning out cupboards and rewarding my efforts with a cup of coffee and some time alone with a good book.
The busy days will return again soon, but for now, I revel in the regular and hope to continue to do so even when we are inevitably rushing again.