This is an interesting little journey, this 12-week sabbatical experience. It is, like so many chapters in life, one of those experiences where God works around the edges. Comes at us from a direction we didn't expect.
Last week we spent three and a half days at one of our favorite spots on the southwest coast of Michigan. South Haven is a town with a lovely marina, two beaches, some nice shops and simple restaurants, a river that divides the town, a section called North Beach that has many B & B's, and it all "works" as a getaway place. We soaked up the sun, enjoyed the water, watched some stunning sunsets, and walked out to a rather pedestrian lighthouse that sits at the end of the jetty/breakwater.
These last couple of days, though, I have been hanging out at home. Taking care of lots of small things. Phone calls, doing a little writing, running errands, and stopping at the grocery store a couple of times. Just ordinary, little stuff. Tuesday I worked out at the Y, headed to Mishawaka and visited a book store, bought a pair of good walking sandals at the mall, and had a late lunch at a BBQ joint. I've been "burning" CD's to synch with the new iPod player I bought three weeks ago.
Now here is the thing: I have noticed that I am lighter. Somehow, even though I keep moving, I am lighter. And I have noticed that I am lingering with people. Slowing down. For instance, I stopped at the barber shop this morning. (I know...it doesn't take long!) Instead of paying the bill and moving out the door, I lingered. I don't know whether the guys in the shop appreciated my hanging out for a few extra minutes, just chatting, but I have noticed that I am lingering more with people. Whether at the barber shop or talking with the woman standing behind me at the post office yesterday.
Something inside me is slowing down.
As I sorted through some things today, cleaning up my part of the house, I came across a devotional reading for Christmas someone had given me months ago. It's the story of a woman in an office who gives a man a couple of small gifts for Christmas. One is a very inexpensive calculator. There is another little thing to take camping. Finally, though, she gives him a wrapped present which he opens -only to find nothing inside.
There was nothing inside! The man held the empty box up. There was a long silence. Quietly, the woman said, "It's a pause. Use it anywhere. Anytime you need it. It will always be there." The woman smiled. "I know you've been busy," she said, "and I thought you could use a pause."
I like that story in Luke 10. Where Jesus shows up at the home of his friends, Mary and Martha. He lingers. And Mary lingers with him.
Somehow I think lingering is an important part of the art of life.