Last weekend I was given a gift. It was something I had longed for, craved, tried to forge for myself, something I thought I couldn’t get enough off.
Time to myself.
Well, kind of. I still had the baby with me, of unpredictable naps and in need of plenty of milk. Still, more time than I’d had in a while. Think of all the things I could do.
When it came to it, faced with, on the one hand, solid blocks of time and, on the other, a large to do list, both everyday and creative…
…I did next to nothing that wasn’t essential for keeping myself (& son) alive.
It made me realise that as much as my family and responsibilities take up time and use energy, in actual fact they inspire and energise me. It is the funny ordinary every day circumstances that trigger my thoughts and set me thinking about things that eventually turn into blog posts, (half) knitted cardigans, oil paintings, poems…
What a revelation: 45 minutes breastfeeding isn’t time just to be wished away and hurried up so I can get to what really matters. Aside from the obvious benefit of nourishing my son, it’s also thinking time. I have some very deep and delicious thoughts sometimes when I’m pinned to my chair without my phone in reach. What’s the likelihood that I would sit down for 45 minutes and just think otherwise? The same could apply to being stuck in traffic or waiting for a slow computer to load or any number of things that feel like tedium.
A tiny little etymological excursion:
Tedium – from the Latin taedere “to be weary of”. Te Deum – from the Latin te deum laudanus “God, we praise you”. (Thanks Google)
Question: How do I get from one to the other…?
I wrote most of this in a little stolen time in the waiting room at the doctors at the beck and call of the red letter display. Time for baby jabs – no-one’s favourite activity. But being there and then, me and him I started thinking about his little life and how I would normally go out of my way to keep him from pain, and yet here I was going out of my way to schedule pain in for him. I knew I was in all likelihood about to turn his day into a Bad Day; maybe even make him a little bit ill. And then I thought about how maybe we all need a little bit of suffering at the right time to keep us from worse things later. Maybe that’s how God is using my own current difficulties.
All of which is to say that if I had been able to plan my whole day I’d never have chosen that activity, but then I’d also never have had that inspiration. It had to be there and then and me and him and that was the gift.
Our circumstances are not an accident. God has put us where we are on purpose to complete “the good works he has planned for us long ago”. We’re not interchangeable, faceless automatons. We are deliberately embedded, who we are, where we are. It has to be here and now, me and Him. Perhaps if I could start to see that more then I would be a bit less grumbling and a little more content. Maybe then my tedium would start to become a little more Te Deum.