(Written on May 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown)
My high school daughter and I have recently completed four TikTok dance videos. She says I look grumpy in them. My robotic movements and serious face come from my lack of dancing talent and from concentrating on the upcoming body motions. I am sure that her enjoyment comes in part from watching Mom being so awkward in these videos, and in part from teaching me the sequences of hand and feet movements.
Before the quarantine, she never thought to invite me to get in on the dance-videos as she made them with her friends, nor would I have wanted to waste my time learning dance moves for a social media video.
Inside the Box
With a virus on the loose, the fragility of our lives flies in our faces, and the primary place we want to be is at home with our loved ones. Remaining at one location simplifies our life in some ways. Before the quarantine, we juggled time and space to actualize our daily plans, but now we only shuffle time to manage a schedule. For parents staying at home with our children, life became more hectic with meals, school, work, and entertainment, not to mention relational issues that demand our immediate attention – sometimes, all at once. At the end of each day, many of us are exhausted.
“Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.” (Psalm 90:12)
Many families have taken a proactive approach to intentionally take advantage of unstructured time at home. Cindy initiated a family morning prayer. Shelly reads books out loud to her children after some pseudo schoolwork. Kim taught her daughter how to use a sewing machine.
Because we are home all day with family, there are plentiful opportunities to waste time on loved ones. By flipping our mind and heart switches, we can embrace opportunities to squander time together. This is time spent with each other where there is no agenda besides being present to one another. It is time that is not considered productive in any measurable way. Do you know how to waste time with a loved one? Here are a few simple ways:
1. Be flexible with your schedule for the day.
2. Lavish others with your full attention and push aside tasks in order to listen actively.
3. Relax. Do not rush yourself or your loved one, even with trivial matters.
4. Stop and smell the pancakes or listen to a robin or to the rain.
5. Savor the daily small (or big) moments. Empathize, respond, and engage in interactions.
6. Be calm and be yourself.
7. Remember that the experience of God’s love and mercy, to a great extent, comes from the love shared among family members.
Our life consists of a series of moments. We cannot add nor subtract the time allotted to us, but we can choose how to use it. There is a quote that goes, “Love is spelled t-i-m-e.”
On the Ground
Our first venture out of home quarantine was to a neighborhood playground on a sunny and windy day. While the children played on the swings and slides, I lay on the cool green grass and closed my eyes. My mind focused on upcoming tasks, “I should have put the load of laundry into the dryer and put the next batch into the washer before we left,” and “What shall I make with the ground beef thawing in the refrigerator?”
The children excitedly chattered as they plopped on the ground beside me. With them came that outdoor sun-exposure smell, freshly acquired. For a long moment we silently watched clouds move swiftly across the blue sky. Their shapes drifted from one nebulous form into another. Looking over, I saw my children’s eyes bright with calm inspiration, like clear pools reflecting the passing clouds and sky above.
“It’s like I can feel the earth rotate,” one remarked. “But it is really just the clouds moving!” another piped in. If moments could be saved in a bottle, this would be one of them.
“Let’s take the long way home,” I said eventually. In the next instant, they were up and running in front of me on the sidewalk. I watched them flee toward home, swifter than the clouds.
This post also appears in The Well entitled, “Watching cloud Go By.”