Growing up, I never felt that there was enough time for me to do everything I was interested in doing. I would pray, superficially, asking for more time in the day to accomplish what I had not gotten done.
My mother used to say that I should stop and smell the roses. From my vantage point, she was encouraging me to stop being active. I loved all my activities and couldn't wait until the morning to begin my day.
During graduate school, life took a different turn. Instead of longing for more time to do things, I was longing for more time to be still and quiet. I wanted to stop rushing around and focus on reflecting, studying the spiritual things of life. I guess I'd had enough rushing around.
Fortunately, I lived in an environment where the community cared more about who you were than what you accomplished during your day. When people met each other, they were more interested in how you approached your work than what you did during work. I found this refreshing. Those few years in this environment taught me that my mom's words had some merit; roses reflect the beauty of life, which is worth noticing.
A very insightful spiritual thinker, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote an article entitled "Improve Your Time" that helps keep time and activity in perspective. She wrote: "A great amount of time is consumed in talking nothing, doing nothing, and indecision as to what one should do. If one would be successful in the future, let him make the most of the present" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," pg. 230).
In the face of all the demands of raising a young family and nurturing a career, this statement reminds me not to get distracted from the present moment - to realize there is never more to do at one moment than another. The highest work is to express the glory of God. Our activities ought to be designed to be a blessing to us, and if they stop feeling like a blessing, we have a right to ask how our day can be realigned.
Mrs. Eddy continued: "Rushing around smartly is no proof of accomplishing much.
"All successful individuals have become such by hard work; by improving moments before they pass into hours...." I've found that improving moments means learning to ask God each hour what He would have me do.
Finding ourselves in the middle of the day going through the motions and feeling mentally dull or run ragged by our responsibilities is an opportunity to awaken to the beauty of being refreshed by thoughts that come to us from God. Even when our hands may be "going through the motions," our thought can be vital and active.
Facing down dullness or overexertion means honoring our best thinking. As we ask God more frequently what He would have us do at any given moment, we are choosing what thoughts we want to be entertaining and which ones we want to reject.
God knows us, and He reflects calm and peace in us. The Love that created us maintains in us a beautiful, unhurried existence. As we learn to see this in ourselves each moment, our life will settle into a rhythm, and we will see that improving our time is possible.
I will lift up mine eyes
unto the hills,
from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot
to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he
that keepeth Israel
shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord
is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee
by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee
from all evil:
he shall preserve thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve
thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth,
and even for evermore.