yesterday afternoon i was telling my coach that i have a procrastination problem. this is not the first time that i have brought this up with her–it was, as a matter of fact, one of the first things i mentioned in both my e-mail and then in-person introductions. so yesterday when i said “i have been procrastinating a lot lately” and she gave me a funny look i was momentarily perplexed.
she asked, and this is an extreme paraphrase, “when do you do something?”
with a sheepish look while twisting hands in my lap, i blink, and prepare myself to have to explain my answer of : “when it feels right.”
“have you ever thought maybe it is not procrastination but a pause? waiting on the spirit?”
she also said something beautiful about mary waiting. and being in advent and waiting. these words i remember less clearly, but remember the weight and gravity and depth of the content of her words. and if my jaw didn’t literally drop, it figuratively did.
tears sprung to my eyes. and i may have smiled.
“no, i suppose i haven’t thought of it that way.”
so i’ve been thinking about this portion of our conversation since yesterday afternoon, and wondering why i would push away the liminal space that i so long for, the in-between and waiting space of already and not yet, of waiting on the spirit to speak and move and give comfort.
i have been wondering if procrastination has been mislabeled for many of us.
if perhaps what we have been taught is procrastination is really making space for the spirit to move. for our hearts and minds to have a chance to come together. if it just isn’t time until it feels like time, and maybe sometimes that means it is never time.
what if what is labeled as procrastination for those who listen to the holy spirit is not the western-society-culturally-approved rate of movement (instant-response, always-answer-the-phone-immediately, produce! produce! produce!, numbers! numbers! numbers!, i needed that YESTERDAY!, move faster!), but rather is moving at the speed of the spirit?
what if rather than spend a large chunk of our day/time internally berating ourselves for not keeping the same sort of linear time as is expected of us because of western culture norms but instead gave space for the waiting, for the pregnant pauses. what if, in matters of the heart and of faith and ministry we slowed down? what if we got off the rat-race track and slowed down and listened to our neighbor, sat at our kitchen tables with the windows open at 11:00 in the morning on a thursday afternoon with the advent candles glowing while quietly pondering the ordination process? what if instead of feeling bad for needing to take 30 minutes longer in the morning to make space for quiet cups of coffee, or 15 minutes to sew something creative? or take an afternoon to read a novel, a morning to lay in the sun? what if it was acceptable to take a long walk in the middle of the afternoon because you think best while moving at a leisurely stroll and not sitting or standing in an office building somewhere? what if our offices could be our favorite coffee shops? our favorite pubs? our kitchen tables? our neighbor’s kitchen table?
i want to stop apologizing to myself for taking the time i need to think. the time i need to listen and wait. there is such an expectation of what is “appropriate” and “acceptable” in our culture and the church has taken it hook, line, and sinker. but our history is one of people doing things differently–of church mothers and fathers wandering the wilderness, living in caves, living in community and keeping silence together. our history is a history of anchorites. of jesus going for a few walks alone (“to give the crazy people some space”). we are a people of contemplative thought, of congregational singing and community living. these are not things that are to be done at the western-break-neck speed.
let us slow down, and live into the in-between spaces. to the times of watching and waiting–like our trappist brothers who wake before dawn to pray while the rest of us sleep. this is not something to be rushed, but something to wait-into.
we have really got to stop this game of trying to look like we have it all together all of the time. we have to stop faking the ability to really Do It All. we can’t! i can’t balance everything. you can’t balance everything. no one can. sometimes things just fall through the cracks because we have too much on our plates. we take on too much or too much is handed to us by the norms of our culture that the church has adopted (rather than being counter-cultural) and we cannot juggle everything. rather than honestly say “i cannot do all of this on my own.” we try to make things look good.
we beat ourselves up by saying we’re procrastinating when our brains and spirits need a break. instead of slowing down we charge ahead because that is what we feel is expected of us, keep working! produce more! work more hours!
but what if it isn’t procrastinating? what if its just not time to write the report yet? what if our minds and spirit just needs another full day before making a decision? before writing a sermon? what if it isn’t procrastination but moving to the spirit’s time, not western-culture’s time?
and so what if it is procrastination sometimes? and how about, instead of hiding behind it or pretending we just name if for what it is? what if we are just honest and sometimes have the conversation, even if it is awkward. “this email fell through the cracks.” “i forgot.” “i had a hard time putting this together.”
let us move at the spirit’s pace.
let us make room for pause.
let us tell the truth.
let us remember we do not have it all together.
and neither does she.
so sometimes things are going to fall through the cracks.
we are the [liminal] revolution.