Poetry

A Case for Standing and Staring

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There is something about the month of May that bubbles up giddy. It’s got all the good things going for it; beautifully dramatic weather, anticipation of summer, and so many celebrations. May seems a marker month for transition and change and happy tears.

Delight should be her middle name.

This second day of my favorite month, I gratefully sunk into the rhythm of a new week: laundry, grocery list, bill pay, bank run and (gasp) real cooking from a cookbook. I sprinkled in some exercise and reading and a long overdue cup of coffee with a friend. The unscheduled margins were surprising and rare, the familiar tasks felt like gifts. Because, hello…May.

But I caught myself one time too many, standing and staring at my phone, the minutes dissolving behind me into air.  Just a needed short break in between one thing to the next. Automatic. Unmindful. Each time I came up out of the digital haze I felt more and more frustrated.

When did grabbing my phone to click small squares become my go to method of taking a break?

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To offset my irritation, I grabbed a book of poems and headed out in the cool afternoon to the front porch.

I sat in the rocker, opened the book and read the perfect case for standing and staring.

Leisure
By W.H. Davies

What is this life, if full of care
We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

The art of observation or of simply staring off into space is becoming lost, even to those of us who know better. We were designed for a balance of work and rest. Davies makes a solid case for the wisdom of standing and staring.  Its about noticing the world around us, soaking it in and thinking about that experience.

When did I give up that practice as my go to place to breath?

I am so fed up with the adolescent struggle against wasted time staring at things that don’t necessarily bring the harvest I am after. The beauty of time’s gift is being eaten up, one insidious bite after another.

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly, will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”

This morning I read 2 Corinthians 9:6, writing it out several times to get its full blessing.  The Spirit brought a whole page of thoughts through this act of Lectio Divina. Its wisdom lingered and served to connect the morning’s bread with the afternoon’s struggle. The lesson being this: when I stand and stare at the wrong thing, it feels very much like I’m sowing my time sparingly. The harvest is reaped accordingly, spare and sad.

As I write this now on my front porch I can hear the cows over the fence chewing their supper. I’m watching a hawk float over the treetops.  The dark clouds are shifting and heavy and I feel an assurance that this time is being sown bountifully.

A digital glow just can’t compete with that.

Pastor Mark shared recently the value of public accountability. Maybe that’s what I need to help me mindfully engage this favorite time of the year. There’s a time and place for downward staring at a screen. For me it’s just got to be way less.  I  hope to sow my time more generously as I stand and stare in wonder at all around me this month.

7 thoughts on “A Case for Standing and Staring

  1. Kelli your words are beautiful and uncomfortably convicting. I find myself using my phone like another appendage. The weather has brightened in Germany and Spring abounds. Thanks for the reminder that the World is not in the palm of my hand. Miss you!

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