To all things there is a season and a time . . . Ecclesiastes 3:1
It is September eighteenth. I am in a cabin in the Upper Peninsula, not far from Houghton, Michigan. It is remote. There is no cell service and very limited internet. Getting away from the constant barrage of emails and texts makes me realize how ridiculously dependent I’ve become on the electronic umbilical cord. Being cut off is both unsettling and refreshing, unsettling because I cannot monitor the security cameras at our Florida condo (necessary after sustaining theft), refreshing because I’m forced to focus on the beauty surrounding me. Refreshing has slowly overtaken unsettling; I’m sleeping soundly and waking up eager to explore the day ahead.
Several days of unplugged bliss has led me to conclude that the attraction of a smart phone is, at its root, the desire to be in control. Is there anything I cannot do from my phone? I can plan the week ahead, make to do lists, listen to books or music, monitor the weather, and keep up with the kids and grandkids all from the convenience of a hand-held device. In reality, I can control little beyond the mundane daily decisions which I alone have to make. A cell phone is a great tool, but it seems that it lulls me into a sense of security while simultaneously setting me up for increased stress.
Here, in the middle of the woods, life has been reduced to a gentler pace. Instead of listing all the things I need to do over morning coffee, the question is what do I want to do? Read a good book? Take the boat out on the lake and catch supper? Drive a back road and look for wildlife? Hunt for agates on a Lake Superior beach? Yes! All of those!
Time, it is said, is our most precious commodity. Choosing how to spend what time we have on this earth, then, is more than an exercise in stewardship, it defines us. I can keep a spic and span house or take a walk with my neighbor, drop a note to a friend, pray for someone in need, spend time with the grandkids, or cook a dish that my husband enjoys. The house will get cleaned, it always does, but it can wait. Some of my tomatoes will go bad while I’m away, but there will be others to preserve when I return.
I know from my days at the bedside caring for others that I could become depleted and ineffective without nurturing my inner woman. Taking a breather from the pressures of daily life is building my reserves. For me, a breather may be as simple as sitting on my front deck and strumming the ukulele. Sometimes it’s looking at a cloud lazily floating from one horizon to the next. But right now, it’s sitting in the middle of a remote Eden, listening to the birds, looking upon the watery reflections undulating on the lake.
A season for work, a season for rest. All is well with my soul.