This early in 2015 our calendars stretch before us with so many blank spaces just waiting to be filled in. May I suggest that, in addition to those resolutions we might have made with some fervor on January 1 that we add a firm resolve to give ourselves some fallow time.
That’s a lovely term that comes to us from the agricultural world when farmers had no choice after the harvesting was completed but to let the fields rest and renew until it was time to plant again.
We have transformed nature turning night into day, warmth into coolness, chill into comfort, all with some advantages, I know, but we have lost a vital rhythm that once balanced human nature. We have also become afraid of empty spaces in our lives and so we fill them.
Almost no one just rides in an elevator or walks along the sidewalk. No, that is time to check the email or send a text message. Some of us have become experts at avoiding the erratic texters who endanger themselves and others as they weave their way past us. I am ready to shout, “Enough! Look where you are going.” But before shouting, we need to ask if we fit into a similar pattern.
When was the last time you allowed yourself to just be and to reflect, to absorb the passing scene, to take note of the store windows or the passing parade? Did you and God sit down together on any weekday and think about next steps?
It was Emily Dickinson, I think, who mused: “What is life if, full of care, we have no time to sit and stare.” She was on to something, already urging in the 19th century that humankind needed time outs in order to truly live as humans could and should. Her words are still true in the 21st century, if we slow learners could hear them.
So, let’s be good to ourselves. Let us not be afraid of reflection time. Let us boldly seize it so that, in another year, we can look back and say: “I have no regrets for the time I spent in prayer and thought. In fact, I need more.” It’s worth a try.