May is one of our busiest months. Everything seems to happen at once. I love to go birding, and here in Colorado, May is the peak of spring migration. It’s also the month when my garden wakes up. I can’t wait to get my fingers back into the soil, sowing seeds outdoors, setting out started seedlings, and pulling the weeds that have been sleeping all winter. At the same time, work continues, bills must be paid, clothes still get dirty, and we still get hungry.
With our schedules full, Pete and I had been communicating in sound bites. “Heading to the store, need anything?” “Can you stop at the bank for me?” “Don’t forget, tonight is our small group meeting.” We hadn’t had a real conversation in weeks. We really needed some quality time. Happily, we’d scheduled just that—back in January.
Pete and I make a habit of sitting down at the beginning of the year and planning out one date day per month. The “rule” is that, if needed, we can move it around within each month, but we can’t cancel it. Date day is a priority, no matter how busy we get.
Therefore, on a Saturday in late May, we downloaded some topo maps, packed up the car, and headed for the near-by mountains. The clear blue sky, icy mountain streams, and towering Ponderosas provided the perfect setting. We didn’t bring anything to do. We just wanted to hang out together.
By the time we got home late that afternoon, we’d discussed everything from the current world crisis to replacing the probably-dead tree in the backyard. I remembered again why I enjoy Pete’s company so much. Even after more than 40 years together, he still surprises me with his insightful perspective on life, the universe, and everything. And once again we realized that nothing can replace spending quality time together.
It’s the same with my close friends. I know better than to go too long without seeing them. Pete is wonderful, but I need women-friends as well—especially their compassion, understanding, and encouragement. Plus, we have fun together!
Intimate relationships take time—undistracted time. Yet, we have a tendency to fill our days with activities that don’t allow for deep conversations. Even when we get together, we turn on the TV, or watch a movie, instead of looking one another in the face. And I won’t even get started on the ubiquitous smart phones.
Unfortunately, this tendency has spilled over into the typical church service. We go from loud music to the offering to announcements to the sermon to communion with never a breather. Our church may be unusual in that the “meet and greet” time is allotted two whole minutes. Even there, we’re barely getting started—Hi, I’m Leslie, who are you? Are yow new in town or at church? Do you have kids? What fills your day? Oops, time’s up.
Even during communion, the worship team comes back up to lead yet another song. The pastor may encourage us to clear up any issues with God before we take the bread and cup, but when are we supposed to do that? There’s never a single minute of silence. Unless you can ignore the lights and music and focus your attention, there’s never a moment in which we can simply talk to God, much less listen for an answer. It’s almost as if we’re afraid to be alone—with one another, with our thoughts, or even with our Lord and Savior.
In the midst of our busy lives, taking time for solitude is nearly impossible, yet it’s essential. Just as Pete and I need extended time together, we each need time alone. And most of all, we need time with God. While we should always be listening for a divine interruption, it doesn’t hurt to write in time with God on our daily schedule. And don’t just pencil Him in. Put it in ink!