So I ran a half marathon toward the end of last year. I didn’t know I could do that… until I did. It took a lot of training. Waking up early and pounding the pavement and keeping at it and pushing myself. And it feels good, accomplishing a goal like that. I’m not going to lie. I love driving around with my hot pink 13.1 bumper sticker on my mom van. To be honest, the weeks following my race I sort of wanted to wear my medal around my neck All. The. Time. and tell everyone I came across, strangers included, that I ran a half marathon.
The days leading up to my half marathon, I had the gift of retreating from my everyday life, getting on a plane and heading to a beautiful retreat center on an island right outside Mystic, CT for a 4 day continuing education retreat with my people… people who lean into the practice of Spiritual Direction.
I kept up my half marathon training while I was there and one afternoon I followed the road off the island nestled in this beautiful harbor. I had a full view of beautiful ocean and lovely Connecticut landscape. I found myself trying to take a picture of all this beauty while trying to maintain my pace. Let me tell you, it’s hard to get a good picture of the beauty around you when you are running.
It suddenly hit me: Janise, Just stop! Just stop and enjoy the beauty and take your dang picture.
I paused my running app, took the picture, and lingered for a moment.
An experience I had just two days before on the plane flying up to my retreat came back to me, one I shared in a recent post, of me sitting on that plane as I gained distance between me and all that my life held at home. To be honest, I felt myself breathe free for the first time in a while. I was by myself with no one to attend to but me and it was finally quiet!
Quiet… that is something this contemplative longs for at the deepest level of her being but doesn’t get most days. I sat with my journal, and as I wrote, the question came to mind to ask of God,
“Lord, what word would you have for me to hold in this time away?”
A word that frequently comes to mind for me shot into my brain: REST. Of course I would think that. This tired momma of four often thinks of the need for rest. But I wasn’t sure that was the word God was giving me or just my tired self speaking.
Beverage service came around and I decided on a cup of hot tea. I fixed it up, I take mine with cream and sugar, and then proceeded to guzzle it down. You see, that is how I must drink hot drinks most days, fast and furious… or it inevitability ends up cold! And most days, because of the numerous interruptions I get from the kids, I drink my coffee cold.
As I found myself gulping this hot drink down, and felt it burn a bit, the thought occurred to me. “Why are you drinking this so fast Janise?! You are in no rush. Savor it!”
That word hit me and I knew… this is my word from God… my word to hold in this time away and maybe to carry back with me into my life… SAVOR.
I looked up the definition
Savor: to enjoy food or an experience slowly, in order to enjoy it as much as possible; when you savor something, you enjoy it to the fullest.
Slow down long enough to enjoy something to the fullest… Wow.
Savor would not be a word that I would use to characterize the way I do life most days. It was not how I was doing life right now in that moment on my run or how I have been doing life in training for a half marathon, both the race and the metaphorical marathon that seems to be my life!
How do you do life most days?
Usually, I roll out of bed and immediately hit the floor running, throw back some coffee while keeping the kids on task, get everyone where they need to go, and then it is the daily to do list… cleaning, organizing, laundry, meetings, work, nap the baby in there somewhere, grocery store runs, exercise.
Run, run run… keep going, keep up the pace… that’s how I feel I am doing life most days.
Any of this sound familiar to you?
As I thought about this moment on the plane while I continued on my run, running past beauty that called for me to linger, I remember thinking to myself, “After I finish this half marathon, I think it is going to be time to walk a lap. I think I need to do life a little slower, less ambition (something hard for this over-achiever), and not push myself so much. I need to learn the practice of savoring”
Friends, there are times and places for running and pushing yourself and seeing how far you can go at your best pace.
But then again friends, sometimes you need to walk a lap. Sometimes you need to slow. Sometimes you miss things at a running pace.
This moment has come back to me as we begin this New Year, a time when we usually reassess our goals, reorient our priorities and make a list of the things you want to do/improve/accomplish in the coming year.
Might this be a season, a time to walk a lap?
Maybe your New Year’s Resolution needs to be to NOT do so much! To NOT try so hard. To NOT set new goals, achieve higher heights, but simply slow down and enjoy what your life already is. This seems to be the invitation God extended to me on my retreat away the week before my half marathon run.
After pushing myself physically and in the projects we undertook in 2017 (on top of life with four kids, a half marathon for me and a Spartan Run training for my hubby, we also undertook the renovation of our basement), I have decided that sometimes it’s okay to walk a lap.
For me, my New Year’s Resolution is to not try so hard. To not push myself so much. To slow down long enough to take in the life that is around me as it is, imperfect, messy, not organized, so that I can enjoy it to its fullest.
Joining the “one word” bandwagon, 2018 is my year to SAVOR. My life is full, and the fullness of it can make me run fast and furious at times. But there are many joyful blessings to be enjoyed in the fullness if I slow down long enough to take it in! So here’s to #savor in 2018!
Oh, and I am going to keep up my running… but I am going to add a lot more walking into my life at a slower pace, a pace that allows me to savor, to take in the fullness of life as it is.
As you begin this New Year, whatever your resolutions are or #oneword is, I pray you may find there is much to savor in your own lives in 2018! God’s joyful blessings are all around just waiting to be savored!