I have a large rock in my office that says, “The best way to do is to be.” Yes, it sounds like one of those powerfully wise, mind-blowing thoughts that needs pondering – and even then we may walk away and think, “Wait, what?!”
I am often a “Do-er.” I am constantly thinking of the most efficient ways of doing things so that I can do more things – “If I do my errands in this order rather than that order, then I can make right hand turns and not have to wait at lights or it puts me in this specific place at this specific time so I can do this other thing.” Waiting on water to boil for dinner? Let’s get the dishwasher unloaded. Wait – I can cram this one more little task in before I need to go do this other thing. Look at all the things on my “To Do” list.
Call me the Martha of the Mary and Martha sisters in the 10th chapter of Luke. I will own it.
But something in me shifted a number of years ago as I was drawn to this distinction between doing and being. I know that if I am not careful, I can begin to find my worth in what I do and not who I am.
What does it mean to just “be?” Be what?
Be Still – Sometimes we just need to stop and sit with no plans or agenda. Earlier this month I took time to retreat to Chautauqua, New York. I had never been to this part of New York. The trees were in the midst of changing and it was gorgeous. There were so many things I wanted to go see and do, but that wasn’t the point of this time away (Okay, I DID go see Niagara Falls at the end of the week). I pretty much spent my days alternating between sitting on the lovely balcony of the place I was staying, reading, and walking. I took a number of books to read, books to journal in, mandalas to color. But once I got there, I intentionally left most of those things in my bag and spent an inordinate about of time just being still physically, which led to my mind becoming still and space for God’s voice to be heard – and naps, lots of naps! (And, okay, I still read a lot.)
Be Present – Rather than thinking about all the things I SHOULD be doing (okay, realistically, they did creep in at times), I tried to be intentional about just being present in those moments. Present to my physical needs, present to my spiritual needs, present to the beauty surrounding me, present in the moment. Smiling and rejoicing when I needed; crying and grieving when I needed. And, amazingly, when I returned home, I was able to be more present to those around me – not just near them getting all the things done, but pausing to see something my son pointed out or to listen to my husband as he shared a story, present to offer a smile or “Good morning!” to the people I encountered in stores or passing in the park.
Be Me – And in the being still and being present, I returned back to my center, to remembering my core being as a beloved child of God. I rediscovered things about myself that I like, that I am passionate about, that I believe God has called me to. There was space for gratitude and dreaming, for grief and healing, for exhaustion and recuperation.
So, as I return to work and unpack my office (new carpet that was installed while I was gone!), this stone takes its place back on my shelf where I see it daily. Retreat time is important and soul-filling and needs to be practiced regularly; AND, finding moments in every day to BE still, BE present, and BE who God created us to be and loves no matter what we do are just as important.
The best way to do is to be.