My wife and I are coming to the end of our second week of COVID-19 stay-at-home living. Chris put this experience into perspective a few days ago, when we were deciding what to do together. “Lord knows, we have the time,” she observed. “We can artfully sculpt our time into a beautiful day.”
To be honest with you, I’ve had trouble accepting the blessing of abundant time. On the one hand, the gift is wonderful: Most of my schedule is not spoken for—urgency has been shunted off to the side. Frenetic busyness isn’t viable anymore. Time to think more deeply, slowly, assuredly. Time to be silent and observant. That’s been great for an introvert like me.
On the other hand, the Purposed Guy part of me is scratching at an itch that tells me I ought to be doing something with this gift. “Blessed to be a blessing” tugs at me. Because the blessings are abundant, shouldn’t I be reciprocating or paying forward—in a big way—a good share of this boon with others? “To whom much is given, much will be required,” says Jesus. Part of my calling or lifework is to make a difference, even in the middle of this pandemic.
Some virtual and real-life experiences have helped me make sense of the tension between accepting the gift of time, and making good use of it. First, Chris’ reminder that part of receiving a gift is to know it intimately, turning it over and over to reveal its full dimensions. Some conversations with other wise people have reminded me that this is a Sabbath season—even a time of silence—that can strengthen my resolve for action, to take on purpose and meaning that will reveal themselves soon enough.
Small opportunities have opened my eyes to the ways in which simple acts of caring and connection can be so important to others. So my personal and advocacy letter-writing has increased. My weekly visits to an elderly woman in assisted living—now into their second decade—have become more-frequent phone conversations. Because I believe strongly in the power of spoken and written words, I may be accomplishing more than I know through those simple acts.
Chris—and others—are also right: It seems right to cherish these moments as they come each day. Shared exercise and walks; heart-to-heart conversations with our children and friends; time to savor a sunrise or a snow shower—all ways to honor this gift of abundant time. Examining it like a sculptor turning over a piece of stone or wood—getting to know the raw material intimately before artfully carving it into something delightful. In this case, the material is time itself—unblemished, pliable, useful—waiting to be formed into a beautiful day.
I’m not sure if my time-use tension is completely resolved, but for now I’m going to start with being grateful at its core—discovering the fullness of the gift.
Lord knows, I have the time….