Practicing with Children

Down Time. . .

clovers“The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.”  ~Mark 6:31-32

Everyone has his or her own way of letting go and “chilling out.” A place, time of day, or activity that allows you to just be. You aren’t worried about making dinner, getting homework done, upcoming meetings or anything else that might be on your plate. No doubt about it, finding time and actually doing down time is hard to do.

We are a society on the move. We wear our “busy-ness” as a badge of honor and we raise our kids to do the same. And when we try to carve out down time, others pull at us, each claiming a small piece of our time – and then we let them (or at least I do).

A little confession: I am the worst at saying no and I am even worse about taking or making time for myself. I was told in seminary to schedule time for myself, schedule time for prayer, etc.  Be it my generation or perhaps just me, I don’t do well with planned or calendared “down time.”  What I notice about myself is that I am pretty good at doing impromptu “down time.” While I don’t set a specific one or space to let go, when an opportunity comes my way, I will probably take it. Last Sunday night was one such time.

During an evening walk to the corner store with my daughters, we passed a few different patches of clovers.  As I looked at the clover, a flood of memories came to me of spending hours in a field by my house in Central New Jersey looking for four-leaf clovers with my neighbor, Betty.  In that field, amongst the clover, I had some of my best and deepest conversations with her, myself, and God.  On our way back from the store, I told the girls about one of my vivid memories of Betty in a field of clovers. Before I knew it, the girls and I spent an hour outside gazing at clovers. While we didn’t find a single four-leaf clover, my youngest daughter turned to me as we continued our walk and said, “This was the best part of my day.”

Down time….we need more of it, as do our kids.

May the God who dwells behind time

and the God who dwells within time

bless you with the gift of time.

May it be for you an open door,

a spacious place,

a realm of meeting,

a world of grace.

~Jan Richardson

Jenn DiFrancesco


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