We’ve had an early blast of winter in my neck of the woods and several centimeters of snow fell over the last 24 hours. As I was preparing breakfast this morning I received an unexpected text from the college where I am an instructor that classes would be cancelled for the day. At that moment, my plans were changed and the day opened like a beautiful present. I got my husband off to work, trying not to rub it in that he still had to head out, and made myself another cup of coffee. Not just the regular coffee mind you, but my special peppermint fudge coffee. As I sipped it, delighting in the scent, warmth and dessert-like sweetness, I also savoured the day ahead. The possibilities seemed endless as to what could be accomplished.
Immediately, that to-do list that stalks me, whispered the same old list. Yes, some things still had to be done; a test prepared, medical reports to be transcribed, some fact checking to be done. But all of those things were already on the list for the day. What about those hours when I was supposed to be at school? What could I do?
My mind returned to my first thought upon reading the text that classes were cancelled. It was a gift. The gift of the present. A few hours to savour like a hot cup of specialty coffee. Time to recharge while my world was still for a short time.
First, I enjoyed an extended quiet time. Instead of pushing to get through the devotional, I drank it in thoughtfully, really applying the truth to my life. Then just the right playlist of worship music. Normally I have time for just a few songs, but today, I luxuriated in the entire playlist, singing and praying, the presence of God surrounding me like the soft afghans my grandmother had knit for me. Just taking this time, an hour or so, refreshed my spirit. I was both energized, and relaxed.
Then I decided to treat myself to a longer workout than a work day normally permits. I was mindful of feeling my heart rate increasing, my muscles tensing and then relaxing, the movement of my feet and the beat of the music. I do workout several days a week, but its something I often have to cram in somewhere between other tasks. The danger is that it can become an obligation, not a celebration of health and fitness.
By this time, the sun was shining and through the window the world looked so bright with the blanket of snow. I decided to head outside for a few minutes to not just see winter, but feel it. I heard the snow crunch. My eyes blinked at the incandescence and my lungs relished the freshness of the frosty air. My backyard had been transformed in a day and it looked beautiful. My friend’s new bride has just come to Canada from Africa and would be experiencing for this wonder for the first time. In those few minutes, even though I’ve seen more than fifty Canadian winters, I took it in as if it was my first time. God is the most amazing artist.
Opening the door to head back inside the warmth rushed towards me, as if eager to experience the beauty for itself. I knew I had to start to move towards those few things I had to do today, but it did not take me long to realize that taking those few hours to refresh my spirit and my body allowed me to be so much more productive than if I had just tackled the desk work first thing. I worked for a while and then returned to the kitchen to try a new recipe for supper instead of making the same old type of thing. A creativity break. Knowing there was something yummy in the oven encouraged me to head back to the office and finish what needed to be done for tomorrow.
How magical it seemed to get all my work done, and even a bit more than I planned, even with taking time to savour the gift of a snow day. There is no magic to it really. Rushing does not help me accomplish my goals, pausing in the midst of it does. Hurrying and multitasking does not build relationships, investing in them does.
So there is a lesson in a snow day. I can hear it as the delicate flakes fall. Pause. Pray. Relish. Explore. Recharge. Sing. Create. Use your senses. Be present in the gift.
I want to take this with me into the rest of the week, into the already full Christmas season. Hustle and bustle wears me out and makes me cranky. I will draw margin around it to build my relationship with God, my family and even strangers. I will use my senses to enjoy this life and not just try to conquer the calendar.
I took time to get breakfast prepped for tomorrow so I can partake in the gift of a new morning. What small step could you take to draw margin in your day to savour life?
“She had a good sleep that night and awakened in the morning to find herself and the world transformed. It had snowed softly and thickly all through the hours of darkness and the beautiful whiteness, glittering in the frosty sunshine, looked like a mantle of charity cast over all the mistakes and humiliations of the past.” L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables)