“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Losing Track of Time

It has been a crazy busy few weeks - I've had several major events to prepare for, organise, and partly deliver, including the Spring Training Day on How Unitarians Do Communion, the District AGM, and, just last week, the 2017 Annual Meetings of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches. During which I had two slots to look after, and two stalls to help mind. As well as keeping track of requests for and responses to my survey of Unitarian beliefs and spirituality, which was launched towards the end of March.

And these are just the highlights. There has been all the "normal" stuff to do as well - leaders no worship, pastoral care, spiritual direction training and sessions, putting newsletters together, and all the other stuff involved with ministry. Then there is the non-ministry stuff: domestic tasks and self-care, including going to the gym four times a week, and trying to find the time to do some creative writing and art.

I normally keep on top (or at least nearly so) of all this by means of a very detailed weekly To Do List, which is written on a Sunday evening for the week ahead. Each task, whether for work or not, is assigned to a particular day, and I tend to "front-load" the week by having Monday and Tuesday as my desk work days (unless something comes up, Wednesday (if I can manage it) as my rest day, leaving Thursday and Friday more flexible, for whatever comes up or is needed. Saturday and Sunday are generally work days. Then it all starts again.

I share all this by force of contrast to my current situation. It is earlyish on Tuesday morning, and I'm sitting up in bed in a Welsh barn with a notepad balanced on my knees, listening to my husband in the shower and to the farm sounds outside the window. I've no idea what we are going to do today, and quite honestly, I don't care, so long as we are together and enjoying ourselves.

Presently, I will get up, prepare for the day and eat some breakfast. Then we'll decide what we fancy doing, according to what the weather looks like, and how we feel.

My normal watch is very accurate, and I know to the second what time it is. Each working minute is meticulously recorded, so that I know I'm giving the District good value for the stipend they pay me. I am conscious of the time, almost all of the time.

But not this week. I have a special watch, which I only use on rest-days and holidays. It came from Belarus, and only has (by design) one hand. The dial show the twelve hours in their usual configuration, but the space between each number is divided into four, indicating quarter-hours,  then each of those (very small) spaces are further divided into three, indicating five minutes. In practice, when I've not got my glasses on, I can't really see the five-minute markers clearly, so I generally only know the time to the nearest 15 minutes, as in "it's somewhere between quarter-past and half-past".

It is surprising how liberating this is. I normally do a fair impression of the White Rabbit from 'Alice in Wonderland', rushing from one task to the next, always busy. But when I use my holiday watch, I am tacitly giving myself permission to lighten up, to follow my heart and gut, to do what I want, rather than what I ought.

"What is this world, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?" Asks W.H. Davies. So I am standing and staring, losing all track of time, and nourishing my soul.