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#WritersRead: Walking on Water by Rochelle Melander

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.


15 Responses

  1. Sally Brower

    Your blog was the permission I needed to clear my calendar this fall so I could have the downtime necessary for a writing project my son and I are planning together! Thank you.

  2. Beth Hoffmann

    Hi, Rochelle,
    Thanks for this reminder of the wisdom of my mom’s being time. I didn’t witness it, but I remember her writing to me, a college student at the time, about sitting in front of the south window in New Mexico’s afternoon sunshine for a half hour, and being thereby rejuvenated.
    I like to make prayer shawls (for the church’s ministry) and/or red scarves (for the Red Scarf Program of Orphan Foundation of America) while I listen to radio programs, and the programs serve as limiters, so I quit while I’m still wanting to knit more. Sometimes I’ve wondered if I exude greater receptivity at such moments, because conversation and telephone calls seem frequent during those times.
    I remember another mom who offered to be available to her children. When she just sat down on the couch, pretty soon somebody would come and sit down and talk to her.
    Blessings to you in your ministry.

    1. writenowcoach

      I love this vision of being time, of being open and receptive to creativity and connection. Thank you, Beth! By the way, I’ve always found that time with my children often fell into the being time category–and that time was never wasted time. Always, always precious and inspiring!

  3. Bill Dohle

    How ironic it is that the time we spend just “being” or just “thinking” is often the most productive time we have. You’d think that it would be the time we spend slaving in front of the computer or on the phone with parishoners or time spent in meetings… but it’s not.
    I always know when I’m needing time like this. When all my ideas run out and I’m left just empty of any creative thought whatsoever. Then my soul needs its own Sabbath. It needs to rest. I need to just go away, to think and ponder and just “be”. Sometimes a walk with do that for me. Sometimes I need something a little longer.
    Creatively speaking, it’s almost as if we need to court the old Muses of mythology. As if my creative soul needs its own seventh day, its own quiet place to rest. And once that quiet is achieved. After the Sabbath has passed…ahh what wonders emerge!
    May you always find a little of that quiet time to refresh your soul, Rochelle too!

    1. writenowcoach

      I love the idea that our soul needs it’s own seventh day. I believe this. When sabbath is just working or facebooking or doing chores, our spirits cannot dream! I hope you get your quiet time, too, Bill!

  4. Aleta Chossek

    I read Madeleine Engle a long time ago when small children and a blossoming career were taking all my “being time”, however it is a concept that lingers with those I am doomed to learn and relearn the value of. If we do not honor that we stay on the treadmill even when we are our “own bosses”. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. In an effort to use up my vacation days this summer, I have taken every Thursday off, and found that it has become (and wonderfully so!) my day to “be” and to “write”. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all work out a situation with our employers for a “writing day” and/or a “being day” instead of a raise? Ingrid Huebner

  6. Elizabeth Jaeger

    This blog was exactly what I needed to hear today. I’ve been feeling gloomy and I think taking more time to “be” might be part of the answer. Thanks for your thoughts.

  7. B. J.T.

    It took working for a pastor and knowing several after that to learn what was up with the ‘extra’ day off. Answer: It is not ‘extra’.

    our time, our basics, I write – 5/7/2011:


    In the beginning the earth was void,
    But was there air?
    The basic thing which everything needs,
    Was it there?

    Perhaps it was
    It may have been used
    To start nature’s laws
    All the purposes for which God mused

    Now we know it and its uses
    Everything and all,
    Also now we have our world full of vices,
    We forget the basics and we fall

    Breathing, even watching fish swim
    Although they use water for it
    It fills my gratitude to the brim
    Sometimes when I am doing nothing but sit

    We all strive for the important
    The earthshaking
    Earthquakes only testify to what was sent
    Earth also being one of God’s basic making

    Attachments to things
    That are not from the beginning
    What an emptiness that brings
    When air is all that God wants us to be breathing?

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