Having free time used to put me on a guilt trip. When I was a young mom, I would sometimes stress about the“free time” I had during my child’s nap. Should I clean? Should I luxuriate in a good book, or rejuvenate with a nap? Should I spend it praying, meditating and writing? More times than not, I often felt guilty about having that free time that my husband did not, or not using the time as productively as I could have. I was trapped by the twentieth-century perception that only by “doing” are we “living.”
Years ago, I was in a small group with a older woman who said what she loved most about her day was the time when she would just “be.” She would ponder, pray, just enjoy the quiet. Huh. I could not get that--I was the type of person who was wired for people and productivity. To my 28 year-old self, sitting and pondering seemed out of the realm of possibility. It took onlyabout a decade for me to realize I needed to slow down and allow my soul to be refreshed by just “being” instead of constantly “doing.” But my type of slowing down can also include my loved ones.
A free day for me would depend on the weather and where I happen to be. A cozy rainy or snowy day at home could involve a book, a lot of tea and couch time. It could mean relishing the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or the A & E six-hour production of Pride and Prejudice. But with only one television in our household, and pastor-husband Tim who needs some space and quiet to write a sermon, the books and tea would probably win out.
But give me a beautiful day, crisp or warm, sunny or partly cloudy, it will start on my porch with a cup of Earl Grey and my Spurgeon devotional, “Morning and Evening,” my Bible companion for three years. After that, perhaps a walk along the Eire Canal with Tim, or a chat with a child before heading to my next joy: spending an afternoon with a dear friend or a family member.
If I drive to Ithaca, (we lived there for three wonderful years), I meet my friend Rhonda--last time I entered her house, she had a cup of tea waiting for me--and we may chat at Gimme Coffee (beats Starbucks, hands down) and laugh until we embarrass our daughters, visit our favorite consignment shops, Mimi’s Attic or Trader K’s, and talk about God, our kids and our husbands. When I recently drove back and forth to Ithaca, my soul was refreshed with the views of Cayuga Lake and the magnificent sunset on the return trip, as I listened to Selah.
If I could spend a free day in New England, where I grew up, I would walk by the ocean, stroll Newbury Street in Boston and sip tea at Tea Luxe, and visit my family in Connecticut. The end of the day would include a glass of wine with my friend Chris, while she frets over the UCONN game (her reaction to a missed basket is entertaining).
If all of my kids are home--two are in college in Boston--a great free day would include a French toast or pancake breakfast made by Tim as our son Sam plays guitar, an afternoon at the movies--preferably sci fi or action--and then the kids make dinner while I sip a glass of wine, read something, and enjoy listening to my family tease one another.
A perfect day is not free, but full--full of the blessings of God’s presence, a favorite book or film, and a good friend.