One of my memories from CASI is probably only funny to me. It was the evening before our trip to Pendennis Castle, and Dr. Sadlier had just instructed us to meet at the Tesco Express at 9:30 in the morning. Someone moaned: it seemed too early to them. I looked around, bemused. 9:30 is late, folks. I piped up, "Today I woke up at --" I meant to say 5 am, but my friend Chaz interrupted me. "Sara," he said, "no. Sara. No. Sara. No." I'm a morning person -- that's no secret. Mornings are full of sunshine and light and peace and quiet. The day is fresh and new. It's a blank canvas. You can do whatever you want with it. It's so beautiful to me, and I find myself most productive in the mornings, more than any other time of day. I like to have class in the mornings, practice in the mornings, read in the mornings -- you name it, and I'll try to fit it into the time before lunch.
When afternoon hits, though, my perspective changes.
My mom walked in the door from running errands at about 2:45 pm, and when she had brought all her stuff inside, I bemoaned the time of day. "I hate afternoon," I said. Why, she wanted to know. "I don't know," I whined. "It's so lethargic, and I never want to get anything done. I'm just so bored." It isn't that I can't do anything, but that I don't have the drive to do anything. But watching TV is not the answer for me, because I find that boring and unfulfilling.
Her response surprised me. "Sara, you should just give yourself a break. You don't have to do anything if you don't want to. Just rest."
As I've been reading Simply Tuesday, Emily Freeman's words have spoken volumes to me, as usual. The subtitle of this book is "Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World." In the first pages, Emily makes the point that we are addicted to getting things done. She talks about "the allure of hustle" and the obsession with doing in order to be.
I've known for some time that I have this tendency. Get this done. Cross this off the list. Do your homework. Practice, practice, practice. Study your music and practice some more. Don't get me wrong -- I love practice. I love the work involved in singing. One of my favorite parts of the day is when I get to shut myself in a room and focus on one of my favorite gifts.
But if it becomes an addiction -- what then?
If I am unable to let myself take a break because I constantly feel the drumbeat of production, my work is less holy than it is compulsory. I'm not working out of love for God, giving myself and my gifts back to Him -- I'm working for myself. I'm focused on building my own life rather than letting God build it.
Didn't I say this morning, as I wrote my to-do list, "God, I have this plan for the day, but if You guide me otherwise, help me to listen and follow Your rhythm"?
When Mom admonished me to take a break, I felt the all-too-familiar twinge of the Holy Spirit's breath into my heart. Martha, Martha has become Sara, Sara across the millennia. But then, He was always speaking to me with those words.
Didn't you ask to learn how to slow down? To savor each moment as it comes to you? To be with Me here, now? Here is your chance.
I can honestly tell the unbelievers reading this that, quite often, my response is Ugh. The kind of response you make when you know that someone's right, but you don't want to admit it.
There is nothing wrong with me putting down the aria I'm learning and picking up my copy of some Tolkien (The Fellowship of the Ring, again).
Maybe God made me a morning person not just so that I would love a sunrise, but so that I would learn to chill the heck out in the afternoons. So that I could learn to savor slow-crawling hours of Texas heat and high sun. So that I could surrender those hours to Him.
Maybe, just maybe, I'm a morning person so that in the afternoon, I can slow down and savor.
It's the quietest lesson in the world, but maybe I need to learn it.
I have no adequate closing words (newsflash: I never feel like I do). But in the spirit of slow, I will close this blog post, take off my running shoes, sit on the couch, and read.
May this summer be one of savoring where we are.