“No Time! There’s NEVER any time! I never have time to study! I’ll never get into Stanford! I’ll let everyone down! I’m so confused!” Jesse Spano – Saved by the Bell, “Jessie’s Song”
Failing Geometry, stressed out about getting into the perfect college, and feeling the pressure to record a music album with her friends, Jesse shouts these words as she breaks down after crashing from the high of way too many caffeine pills. Part of me thinks it is funny that this scene from my favorite episode (well, it’s really the only episode of Saved by the Bell I actually remember) comes to mind as I sit down to write this blog. I guess I’ve been feeling a lot like Jesse lately, sans the caffeine pill addiction. While I’m excited about every project I’m working on, the past few weeks at work have been more demanding of my time than normal, and in fact between my two jobs, it truly feels like there’s never any time.
I think this feeling is even more upsetting to me because it’s only been 10 days since I gathered with my students and colleagues at our Ash Wednesday liturgy. The students who work with me to plan our school liturgies chose “Now is the Time” for the theme of our Ash Wednesday liturgy, explaining to the rest of our student body that Lent is an opportunity to take and make time for what is really important in our lives. Now is the time: to pray, to worship, to read sacred scripture, to fast, to reconcile, to listen, to serve, to give, to speak out, to work for justice, to love, to be. I remember leaving mass on Ash Wednesday ready and enthusiastic to really make time in my busy schedule to devote to these things that are more important in the long run.
Unfortunately, somewhere in the course of a week and a half, my commitment to carving aside special time seems to have gotten pushed to the bottom of my to-do list, but instead of beating myself up for how I seemed to have failed, I’m grateful for many reminders God has given me lately, forcing me to rest and indeed make time for what really is important. The first reminder was the four hour drive home I had last night. It’s been two months since I’ve visited my family in San Diego, so the normally two hour drive home to celebrate my dad’s birthday was actually something I had been looking forward to this past week. As I prepared to leave work on Friday, I thought of the many things that I needed to get done and planning how to attack consumed my thoughts for most of my drive home. While I was making good time, I contemplated stopping at a coffee shop even before going home so I could get some work done without distraction. By hour four however, that plan was thrown out the window as I couldn’t get home fast enough. And thank goodness. Instead of grading papers, I had dinner with my family, and snuggled with my three-year-old niece as we watched the Disney channel. Instead of lesson planning, I was able to take an unexpected phone call from my former employer who wanted to let me know her mother had passed away, only a few months after her father had. We talked for half an hour about her parents, about what was going on in each of our lives, and about how unfortunate it was that so often it is tragedy that causes us to slow down and reconnect. And instead of writing this blog, which was already late, I fell asleep exhausted, earlier than I’ve gone to sleep in three weeks.
I woke up this morning, rested and ready to run a bunch of errands and get started on the many things still on my to-do list. I jumped out of bed and walked to the kitchen to get some coffee, only to discover the pouring rain. I’ll admit that I’m a wimp when it comes to weather, but this morning’s storm was much more rain than I’m used to in San Diego, and much more rain than I was willing to go out in. Forced to stay in, I spent the morning with my nieces – having breakfast, playing, and getting them ready for the day. One particular moment from this morning stands out. As I was watching the rain fall from the living room window, I noticed my three-year-old niece, Alayna, playing in the corner. Her sister had left her alone, but she was content playing on her own. She had a toy that was pretty simple in comparison to the ones the play music or flash lights, but she wasn’t having any less fun. In fact she was more than content, laughing to herself and doing a little dance as she played. I tried to watch her for as long as I could without making it obvious that I was watching. I didn’t want her to catch me watching and suddenly stop. I was reminded that sometimes we just simply need to be, and I was grateful for the reminder.
I hope these reminders guide me not only throughout the rest of this Lenten season, but always as I try to create a better balance in my life and devote time to areas that often get shortchanged. Next week I’m taking a group of girls on a Kairos Retreat with another school as we prepare to introduce this retreat to our school. Kairos is one of the Greek terms for time, but unlike chronos is time that is not bound by minutes or hours, but a time that is sacred and special – Kairos is God’s time. While preparing for this retreat has been the cause of most of my stress and what has taken up most of my time lately, I look forward for the chance to retreat – to pray, to listen, to be! Indeed, Now is the Time – God’s time!
Tefi Ma’ake is a teacher and campus minister in California, but more importantly she is an aunt enjoying the uncommon rainstorm and waiting with her nieces for “the sun to wake up” so they can go outside an play!