As Lent begins today, I had my first lesson about Time from the Society of St. John the Evangelist. It’s on online participation study and one that I can already tell will be meaningful and applicable. Todays question for reflection was, “What is your relationship to time?”
I would say I have a love/hate relationship with time. I feel proud when every moment of my day has felt productive and often feel guilty when I take time for myself. Wednesdays are currently a day off from work for me, and for the last two, I have been very busy cleaning out clutter, rearranging, etc. Why? Because I am in a place of immense frustration with my work. So, in my off time I busy myself with things that I can see results of at the end of the day.
This is an unhealthy habit. On the surface, it seems a good thing. Getting tasks done that I have put off, getting rid of the unnecessary. But truthfully, I make myself busy, fill up my day because I don’t want to think about or deal with the frustration of something else. So in that way, it’s unhealthy. Because I’m just stifling my feelings and using a home project to distract me.
I have a habit of overloading myself. I’m a people pleaser by nature and have a hard time saying “no”. Though I have made some tiny little steps in correcting that issue.
Why? Why do I feel guilty for not doing every little thing and end up pressuring everyone around me in my mind to live up to my perfectionist standards? Jesus himself withdrew to quiet places, away from even his closest friends, to be alone. To spend time ALONE. And yes, I’m sure he was praying, but I’m willing to bet that he was also just being still in the presence of God the Father. Just quiet. Just resting. Because, at times, even our disillusioned version of “prayer” indicates a certain type of being busy. I’ve prayed before, on my knees, penitent, heartbroken, interceding…and walked away exhausted. And this shouldn’t be. Prayer should be what releases us from exhaustion and deadlines and to-do lists.
So, on this first day of Lent, I see how much my relationship with time needs an overhaul. And my first reaction is to make a list, overthink the issue and start fixing it. But that’s where the true spirit of Lent begins because I, fallen creature that I am, I cannot fix anything. I must stop. Simply stop trying to go my own way and in my own methods fix a problem that has but one solution. And that is to simply be. Be open, be still, be on my knees, both literally and figuratively, and recieve that mark of the cross as ashes on my forehead. Receive the understanding that I am simply ashes and dust, a branch that is nothing without the vine. I cannot hope to bear the rich fruit that I so want to produce without coming back to this very basic understanding.