In my late twenties, I discovered Madeleine L’Engle’s book, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art. I’d been a fan of her Newbery Award-winning book A Wrinkle in Time since I was seven. In Walking on Water, I discovered the writer behind the book I had loved for so long. L’Engle preached the benefits of being time. She wrote:
I sit on my favorite rock, looking over the brook, to take time away from the busy-ness, time to be. I’ve long since stopped feeling guilty about taking being time, it’s something we all need for our spiritual health, and often we don’t take enough of it. (p. 12)
At the time, I was working as a spiritual leader, and yet I did not take care of my spiritual health. I did not practice Sabbath. I put in 14-hour days on Sundays and spent my sole day off a week doing chores. I’d been raised to work hard and be productive. I worried about wasting time and, worse yet, wasting my life. To that worry, L’Engle wrote:
But being time is never wasted time. When we are being, not only are we collaborating with chronological time, but we are touching on kairos, and are freed from the normal restrictions of time. . . .
Canon Tallis says that his secretary does not understand that when he is thinking, he is working: she thinks he is wasting time. But thinking time is not wasted time. (p. 97)
In my early days of working too much, I blamed the job. My teachers, colleagues, and parishioners all proclaimed the necessity of working long hours and, if necessary, on days off. Today I am the “boss of me,” and I have to admit: I’m tough to work for. I demand long hours of myself, often getting up early and staying up late to work. Reading L’Engle’s words reminds me to honor what I have learned in the past years about writing and being time:
You cannot write much—or much that’s good—without that precious being time. You need time to think. Time to dream and wonder and work out the problems of the world. You also need time to walk in nature, admire the birds, and let your mind wander. This being time brings magic to the dull routine of linking words together. It restores our ability to pay attention and get things done.
As you work to create a writing schedule, be sure to schedule time to be. Your work will be better. Promise!
I would love to hear how you make time to be. Please leave a comment below. All those who comment will be entered into a drawing to win your very own copy of Walking on Water.