The tingling of sunburn on my shoulders couldn’t have felt more delightful as I drove home from the beach this morning.
I’ve been in Florida for a day and a half and the sun’s already reminded my translucent city complexion that deep (deep, deep) down inside, I am a Florida girl. Despite what family and friends might think, I’ve at least proved to myself that I’m an adult: I’ve played it safe and have put on sunscreen for the second and third times in my life. I’ve noticed, thanks to the rosy pink creeping across my body, that even SPF 50 wears off after a while in the water and sun.
It’s been about seven months since I’ve been in Florida. It’s lovely visiting family and enjoying the beach (trying to bake the pale New Yorker out of me). But the pace of life here is so slow. There aren’t a million things to accomplish like there are in the city. This afternoon I noticed myself beginning to get frustrated by my lack of productivity – I’ve only been to the beach and spent time with family since I’ve arrived. At the beach, to make the best use of my time, I feel compelled to read an intellectually challenging book, exercise, or hunt for shark’s teeth. At my parent’s house it’s even worse. I’ve noticed I find myself absentmindedly grabbing my phone and answering a work email or two (or three or more…), re-organizing my suitcase, cleaning something up, coming up with plans to see an old friend, or writing a response to a letter that has been sitting in my backpack for months.
Do I think I’m too important to let work go on without me? Maybe. Do I actually derive my happiness and value based on what I produce? Probably. Can I enjoy this time off and rest and relax without feeling guilty for not being at the office or not being ‘productive’? I don’t know, but I want to. I don’t think God is impressed with my efforts or performance. I think instead He’s whispering to me, “Cease striving and know that I am God.”
My prayer for this week is to take a deep breath, enjoy this time off away from the city, and to heed Eliot’s wise words:
“Teach us to care and not to care.
Teach us to sit still.”
As Eliot said at the beginning of that poem, I no longer strive to strive for such things. I want this to be true for me. This week I choose rest over performance. I choose to be Chesterton’s healthy man who lies in bed without a rag of guilt or excuse, to drink coffee and talk with mom all morning, to go on walks with Poppie, to cook with Gammie, to watch the Borne trilogy with Dad – to do what I hope to do in every area of life: to cultivate intentional, meaningful moments that paint life with joy.