You wouldn’t think that after a year of living and working at home alone, I would enjoy beginning my sabbatical with down time at home. After all, as an extrovert, I feed off the energy of other people—our outings, our conversations, our joint work, etc. How would not working with others affect me?
The first thing I have noticed is the absolute grace and gift of being in no hurry. I caught myself saying, “I’m in no hurry” many times in my first week and a half of sabbatical. I have errands to run, upcoming travel details to attend to, hikes I want to take, bike routes I want to try, books I want to read. But the point is, I can do it—or not do it—whenever I want. I am amazed at how huge swaths of time make errands relaxing and easy.
Once I noticed how often I was saying, “I’m in no hurry,” I started making a practice of enforcing being in no hurry. On my first hike at Blue Sky Ecological Reserve, I meandered along the easy first mile of the trail, marvelling at and taking pictures of the still blooming wildflowers. I noted that I usually never stop to take pictures of wildflowers because 1) My Apple Watch is recording my hiking pace, and I have to keep moving and try to match previous paces; 2) I usually only have X amount of time to exercise before I need to get to work or something else; 3) I don’t want to be that slow-poke lady on the hiking trail. I’m fit! You can’t pass me!
Here is what I learned.
I realized that I didn’t care if I was the slow-poke lady. I was happy to let others pass—more than happy, in fact. I even stopped to chat with a woman who was sitting in the shade while her husband photographed butterflies.
I realized what a slave I have become to my beloved Apple Watch. I had long ago stopped the watch’s annoying habit of telling me to breathe or sleep or meditate. But I HAD been trying to get in my activity time and calories for years, and I have this natural instinct to hike or bike something faster than or at least as fast as the previous times. This time, I told myself to ignore the pace time that my watch announced at the end of each mile. Who cares? I’m in no hurry.
I realized how many of my hikes in San Diego are constrained by my need to get to my next appointment. And so I pay attention to pace partly because I am factoring in time for a shower and perhaps a quick meal before the next thing on my calendar. This means I am usually not focused on the sheer enjoyment of hiking in nature, but of needing to rush to get to the next thing. Being in no hurry brought me sheer enjoyment.
I also realized that my being in no hurry provided visible relief to workers who were helping me. I arrived at the optometrist’s office a little early to pick up glasses, and the young man scheduled to help me said in a slightly harried voice, “I need to finish with my previous customer before I can help you.” I smiled and said I was in no hurry. He looked relieved. Grace.
I dropped off a box at FedEx and waited only about one minute for the person to help me. She apologized for that brief wait, and I smiled and said I was in no hurry. She looked relieved. Grace.
Now I am wondering if there is a way for me to preserve being in no hurry as a spiritual practice when I return to work. I have experienced it in my priestly vocation at times, usually when a brief exchange turns into a longer conversation. Interestingly, most members of my congregation assume I am busy, busy, busy and can’t spare the time for the long conversation, and they apologize for “taking” my time. However, I don’t experience those moments as instrusions or thefts of my time. Whatever else I might have planned just becomes less important to do right then. I’m in no hurry in these cases.
So being in no hurry must be something we can practice, just as we slow ourselves down for an elderly person walking haltingly in front of us, or a young child who needs to dally. Why not give ourselves the same grace?
I might think more about this later, if I want. I’m in no hurry.