I left my last call to Holden Village without having another call lined up, which meant that Marcus and I sat for 10 months, living in a small apartment overlooking a lake, surrounded by apple orchards, with our newborn to 10-month old baby without jobs. When we first set out, it felt like infinite space and time to dive into the things we wanted to dive into (we were unclear as to how much energy an infant requires!). It was going to be glorious.
In some ways it was. In other ways, it was a vacuous space that made me aware of all of the competing things that society tells us we should be doing. Here’s a running list of just a few of the things that I became aware of in that time…(Mind you, these are things to do outside of a job or career):
- Eat three square meals a day
- Cook healthy food
- Take up a hobby
- Get a good therapist or go to yoga
- Participate in some kind of community endeavor like Church
- Read books
- Stay up to date on current events and the news
- Be present and in the moment
- Make time for family
- Work for climate justice
- Work for racial justice
- Work for social justice
- Volunteer your time
- Call your grandmother
- Bond with your child
- Do “Tummy Time”
- Become a guru at cloth diapering
- Make your own baby food (which I didn’t)
- Have an active prayer/devotional life
- Nurture your relationship with your spouse or partner
- Reserve a night for “date night”
- Make time for “self-care”
- Sleep for at least 8 hours a night
- Manage a budget
- Invest your money
- Keep in touch with friends
- Get a pet from the humane society
- Relax and don’t take yourself to seriously
This is not a comprehensive list, just a few of the expectations that piled up around me when I wasn’t working. The life that we’ve created as a culture throws a lot at us. Be present in the moment and don’t miss a beat of the 24 hour news cycle. Exercise, cook, go to therapy, work for justice and relax. Sleep and raise an infant (which, in my experience, were mutually exclusive realities for a while).
What having 10 months of unemployed time as a stay at home parent taught me is that you can have all the time in the world and you still won’t be able to do it all.
Columnist Oliver Burkman writes, “…you needn’t berate yourself for failing to do it all, since doing it all is structurally impossible. The only viable solution is to make a shift: from a life spent trying not to neglect anything, to one spent proactively and consciously choosing what to neglect, in favour of what matters most.” (Oliver Burkeman’s Final Column: The Eight Secrets To A (Fairly) Fulfilled Life, The Guardian)
This same thing is true for churches. We cannot do it all. As we come through this pandemic, I am certain that we will not be all the things that we were before the pandemic and I am sure that we will not do all the things we once did. But I am clear that God has work for us, nonetheless. This past month the council gathered for a retreat to prayerfully consider…what of God’s mission are we called to express here at St. Peter’s, as a collective? What matters most to us as a people of faith? And what are we called to neglect…to not do in order to make time and space for the work that God is calling us to do?
May we all find peace in the fact that we are not limitless creatures. May we find joy in honoring our limitations. May we even find abundance there.