Your extra day…

What are you going to do with your extra day? The 24 hours we’ve been saving up for four years…

In writing about our relationship with time this week, I had forgotten that we are in a leap year.

So this seems a perfect opportunity to be more intentional about our relationship with time. After all, this is a bonus day!

Time as a gift

What would happen if we saw time as a gift, not an entitlement? Mary Oliver‘s poem The Summer Day opens a window:

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean –
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down –
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver, from House of Light, 1990

So what do we plan to do with today, as practice for our life?

Place time

However, time is neither concrete nor linear. So I wonder why we treat it as such and place expectations on it that constantly trips us up?

We have a delightful postcard mounted strategically on a wall at The Waterside quoting Henry David Thoreau:

“If the bell rings, why should we run?
Time is just a stream I go a fishing in.”

What if you could experiment, and experience the fluidity of time?

What cords – physical and psychological – might you snip, at least for a while?

Living and working here at The Waterside, we do seem to run on valley time. It is different from town or street time. We especially notice it when people come here for an event or a development day.

Time shifts from being insistent to being relaxed, breathing deeply. The day is fuller, languidly moving from morning through to the afternoon. And yet, people are astonished by how much they achieve during the day. A different kind of elasticity perhaps…

I wonder where time shifts for you? Are there places where you experience this different flow?

How might you include this quality of time in your extra day, as practice for the next, and the next?

Present time

I love the duality of this phrase. It’s both now and here.

Unfortunately, it is not characteristic of how many of us spend our days.

The shape of time has usually been designed by others. And we have relinquished our ownership of this precious gift.

We have traded meaning for the badge of busyness and the satisfaction of short-term metrics. And forget that we matter.

In turn, we have transferred our concept of ‘resource’ onto others and forgotten that they count too.

The only way we can recover this is to choose to be present. To show up now and here.

To stop swallowing the lie that we are merely cogs in a wheel. Turning around and ‘doing the job.’

Our calling as human beings is to be here and now. With everything we are and have. Because ultimately we can’t be anywhere else.

Welcome to your extra day. Here and now.

And enjoy the view and taste the air. Light the smile within you.

An extra day

“Why was I given this day?“

This is the closing phrase from John O’Donohue’s blessing At the end of the day – a mirror of questions, from Benedictus.

Whilst we may have a specific answer today, it is a good question for every day.

Have I been present?

Have I valued where I was and who I was with? Including have I been conscious of myself, in a healthy way?

Or have I been rushing onto the next thing, living in tomorrow, or still worrying about yesterday?

Have I been generous?

Each of us has the same time in our hands. We can choose to hold onto it tightly, for fear that there won’t be enough.

Or give it away

Thank you for your generosity in showing up today.

I hope you have received the gift of time – this day – in return.

It is precious, use it well.


PS. Yes, you do have the right to ask me too… I am going away with an amazing bunch of women for a weekend in West Wales. This is not something I would have previously even entertained – I have an allergic reaction to traditional ‘women’s retreats’ – but this is with our church family, from Linden in Swansea, and I am so looking forward to it.

This week

Seems to have been about different kinds of relationship. From the juxtaposition of questions and answers, and the space between, through to human gaps and our relationship with time.