I've been seized by the sort of impatience that only seems to creep up at this time of year. We're no longer wrapped up in the busy frenzy of summer, the beginning of the school year and the holidays. It is just plain winter now.
A few weeks ago, I turned the final page in my calendar and hung the new one. The promise of the new year makes me anxious to jump into a million new things. It is a time for do-overs, a time to try things never done. I looked wistfully back at last summer, mentally playing the past year over in my mind.
I should have spent more time with my family doing things in the evening. I should have stuck with yoga and healed my foot. I should have gone on more dates with my husband and camped more with my family. I should have harvested my garden on time and kept my animals from eating the new things I planted. I should have sold goats and better prevented foot rot in the ones I have. I should have spun more yarn and read more books. I should have built low tunnels for my winter garden and fed my chickens more regularly. I should have prepared my son better for the transition from homeschooling to public school. I should have taken the time to visit more beaches and stood barefoot at the water, just resting.
There are too many should haves, I know. I also know that there is no need to dwell on them. That's not my job. I'm a flawed human being with unique talents and quirks, made to fit as a significant piece into the boundless expanse of creation: here to do things only I can do. A speaker at our church spoke of this, imploring us to find our passion: whatever it is we do and never tire of doing. When we recognize this, it is simple to find the unique gifts we've been given in ministry and everyday life.
It's easy for me to find these things: I love to write. I love to create art, whether it is through photography, wool, clay or paper. I love to learn, and to share what I have learned. I love to garden, to be active outdoors and to marvel at the world through the eyes of small children.
During this winter time, I am reminded not to rush into the next thing I would like to try, to teach, to create or to grow. A dear friend reminded me of this recently: this winter time has its purpose. It is a time of rest for the plants and animals, a time of slow growth of roots and preparation for new life. It is the same for me: for you too. It's a sort of sabbath that we can only fully appreciate when we are intentional about it. It is far too easy to spend these dark days lamenting what might have been and worrying about what work lies ahead; what we would like to fix about ourselves or do differently.
So what if we do as my friend says, and rest? What small joys will we find when, instead of barreling haphazardly into the year, we enter it thoughtfully, taking only one new task on at a time? This makes sense to me. I will take her advice. Would you like to do this too?
So far, I have added yoga into my weekly routine and it has been important to know I'm keeping myself from aging too prematurely. I'm too young to be unable to sit cross legged on the ground! Yoga has already enabled me to feel more relaxed and to sit more comfortably on the floor with my four year old playing, and to sit on the ground during Wednesday night church activities with my 6 year old. I am able to play with my 4 year old and her friends at our homeschool co op, and I don't feel as distracted by my pains and stiffness. Slowly, I am becoming more able to minister in the ways that I love: playing with children on their own level and showing them how wonderful and important their exuberance really is.
Photography is an important part of the way I express my creative self. Although I would like to grow my business and to do portraits for many more families than I currently do, I am taking on the challenge instead to focus on my own family in my work. It is working out so that I do not seem to have more work than I can handle at any time, and I am able to document my family along the way and also to put a little into my blogs now and then. My children are becoming active participants in my little photography ideas, and we are loving it! I am able to notice more wonders in our normal days because photography naturally engenders an intense sort of focus.
Writing: I have added on another blog especially for my photography and am learning to be more intentional about what I post in this blog and that. It is through my writing, photography and other art that I seek to encourage and inspire. The reach and impact of this is something I myself cannot measure, but I know without a doubt that they are the passions I've been given. It follows then they should be shared if I am to be a good steward of them.
If I am slow and careful going into this new season I think I will be ever so much more effective than I would be without taking the sort of sabbath rest that these winter months offer. What sort of rest do you need? What are your passions and gifts? How can they be used to shower love and care on those around you? These are the questions I will continue to dwell on this winter. Will you join me?