The Spiritual Practice of Tucking Away

November 14, 2016 | Rest, Sacramental Moments, still | 27 comments

I spent the last 72 hours tucked away in a retreat center in the woods. No Facebook. No news. Not much awareness of what was happening in the world.

Some might say I was practicing avoidance or escapism. I say I was saving my sanity.

All weekend long, the spiritual directors at the retreat center kept counseling us "to linger." Which meant that after a song or time of prayer, we would stand still a little longer, be quiet a few minutes more, center ourselves with intentionality, and ponder the fact that -- despite everything -- the world was still a beautiful place.

If you've read The Happiness Dare, you know that I am not a naturally good lingerer. Maybe you aren't either. For a moment, consider:

1 - how quickly we race from our "quiet time" to the tasks before us.

2 - how fast we move from one task to the next without celebrating accomplishments.

3 - how quickly you brush off a compliment instead of letting yourself linger long enough to internalize kind words.

4 - how you will spend hours preparing Thanksgiving dinner, only to sit down for 15 minutes to consume it all before promptly rising from the table to clear the mess.

We are addicted to hustle, deadlines, speaking before we think, clock-watching, and constant movement.

We are unsure how to live in kairos time -- that big-picture awareness of eternity where time stands still.

Outside of kairos, we miss the wonder of God, who is still here, still working, still setting things to rights.

I am home now. This morning, I lingered over God's Word. Staying in kairos felt like a physical battle as much as a spiritual one. After three days away, I'm way behind with my work. Furthermore, I was deeply grieved by some of the latest news developments. I had this annoying itch to add my voice to the mix, as if the world had been waiting to hear what I had to say while I was tucked away. (In fact, it had not.)

Instead, I lingered longer, while flames flickered in the fireplace. I propped my feet on the coffee table and leaned back into the cushions. My Bible stayed open to John 6, and here's why:

In the story, a bunch of Jesus' disciples deserted him after he delivered a hard teaching.

Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked them this: "You do not want to leave too, do you?"

And Peter responded with these words. "To whom would we go?"

Indeed. Where else do any of us go right now?

My hope is not in my hustle. My hope is not in my opinions. My hope is not in a president or a platform or a political promise. (In the interest of full disclosure, I voted for third-party candidate Evan McMullin. That was the choice that most closely aligned with my personal convictions after much prayer. I realize that my vote puts me in a separate camp from almost everyone reading these words, including my own family and my neighbors, who also prayed and voted based on their convictions. In my rural county, I was one of only 33 people to vote for Mr. McMullin.)

Like Peter, I ask myself: "To whom shall I go now?" The answer is the same as it always was: Not to my candidate of choice. Not to my productivity or hustle. Not to my tendency to control outcomes. But to Jesus alone.

I choose to linger with Jesus. This is what is saving me, people. You won't find me making big pronouncements here or on my social-media channels -- though I am having hard conversations among my own people, believe me. I don't mind if you take your protest or your celebration public. You are smart people, and I trust that you will choose your words wisely. But I can't do it. Not right now.

I will continue to do what I have always done -- gather people at the foot of the cross. And I will linger. I will cherish my Christ. I will make my Thanksgiving dinner, and sit down long enough to taste the food. I will linger over the kind words that someone texted me this morning. I will linger over the good work I will accomplish this week. I will linger over the laughter I shared with new friends this weekend. I will linger in prayer. I will linger in kairos.

I will sit in the presence of Christ, and I will remember that despite everything, it's still a beautiful world.

beautifulworld

"Life will hand you lemons, someone once said. And that it will. It will hand you lemons and scars and broken engagements and cancer and dandruff and orthodontia. Some of us will lose our keys, some of us will lose our hair, some of us will lose our kids at Target—and we’ll all lose our ever-lovin’ minds before this ride is over. There’s no way around the lemons. Jesus said so: “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33).

Yeah, life will hand you lemons. But life will also hand you honey. And it will hand you hammocks and Netflix and queso and scarlet-red lipstick. It will hand you stolen kisses, newborn babies, peppermint candy, Silly String, elastic waistbands, clean sheets, a husband’s forgiveness, and a candle in the sanctuary on Christmas Eve. It will smell like a campfire and taste like triple-fudge ice cream.

There’s happiness right where we are. God is daring us to stalk it. Sometimes it shows up small. But it’s important that we look, because some days the looking will save us."

~ From The Happiness Darethehappinessdare_july-2016_hi-res_01

 

Your Turn: When was the last time you lingered in a happy thought, a moment of awe?

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by | November 14, 2016 | Rest, Sacramental Moments, still | 27 comments

27 Comments

  1. Pam

    Just now😊 I love this post. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Shelly Miller

    I sat in the cafe at the Victoria and Albert Museum today writing on my computer as at least six different sets of people sat on either side of me with their lunch and conversed. I was in awe over the way God makes us all so different. It was as if I was invisible, listening in to conversations alongside God. I then I watched people ice skate on my way home. So glad you had time to stop and listen.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      During my “Tucked Away” time, I so often thought of you and your call to rest. Deeply grateful for your leadership in this area.

      Reply
  3. Yettee Girard

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      You are so welcome, Yettee. It’s been a struggle to wrap words around my feelings. I’m glad that something helpful came through.

      Reply
  4. Angela Howard

    Perfect! “My hope is not in my hustle. My hope is not in my opinions.” We can rest in the sovereignty of God.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Angela.

      Reply
  5. Beth Werner Lee

    I voted that way too, Jennifer! In CA where it didn’t much matter. I took Saturday off but it was still a hard day. Yesterday was a balm though, and this morning I sat in bed and finished Katherine Reay’s newest novel. I’m re-joy-ing: thankful and happy. #TheHappinessDare

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I feel at peace with my vote, even though people in the other camps have accused me of “wasting a vote.” To me, it wasn’t wasted. It was something I could feel good about.

      Thanks for sharing, Beth.

      Reply
      • Kathy Atkins

        Beth and Jennifer,
        I wanted to vote my conscience but instead voted for one of the two. I am sorry that I did not do as you both did. It must feel so good to know that you did the right thing. Thank you both for your integrity and for being an example to me.

        Reply
        • Lynn D. Morrissey

          Beth, Jennifer, and Kathy, I encourage and appreciate all three of you. I can’t tell you how hard and long I wrestled over this vote–more than any in my entire lifetime. And while I usually vote Republican, I simply could not do it for President (I voted 3rd party, and then downline Republican). I felt there was too much at stake (and obviously there was in terms of “issues”)… but I am meaning for the Church and the reputation of Christ and His followers. Kathy, I almost didn’t stick to my intention; it is so, so hard (especially if you felt pressured by other Christians–perhaps even the majority of them). And I’m sure you still voted for the principles you espouse. But in the end, I just felt that Mr. McMullin himself represented these principles (rather than acting morally contrary to them). I don’t castigate any Christians. I know they were terribly torn, and feel that the end they chose justifies the means. I simply couldn’t count on whether or not those ends will materialize. And I also feel that too many people, our fellow Americans, were denigrated in the process by the candidate, himself. One difficulty now is that onlookers consider Christians racists, bigots, and any manner of foul identities. I know my friends are none of these things–far from it. Yet, now, because these fringe radicals who are racist White supremacists have aligned themselves powerfully and vocally with the new president, the rest of the world has no means of sorting it all out. So like it or not, intended or not, unbelievers see Evangelicals and radical racists and “fringe” supporters in the same camp. My fear was and is that there will be incalculable damage done to the Church. The Good News is that Jesus died for His Bride, and His Church will always prevail. And the other encouraging mandate that all Christians have, whether or not they voted for the candidate, our President Elect, is to pray for him and his administration to do the right thing, to bring about godly change, and for the Lord to support and protect him and them. And we know that God hears prayer and that He answers it! Praise Him! He is sovereign, and He raises up and puts down leaders. Ultimately we rest in His sovereignty. Love you, Jennifer, and thank you for your courage to post this. Like you, I have felt the sting of people (on both sides of the political divide) telling me I didn’t vote and that my vote didn’t count–it was but a non-vote. Admittedly, that hurts, because I really studied, prayed, and voted in good faith for someone in whom I believed. Before God, I could do no more.
          Love
          Lynn

          Reply
  6. Tiffany

    I love your words, Jennifer, and today they met me after I had just read Hosea 8:7, “they sow the wind and they shall reap the whirlwind.” I’m a horrible lingerer too but after several days of whirlwind, my soul just craved my bible, the soft corner of the couch, and a cup of hot tea. I’m so grateful for that craving, that the Spirit draws me in to linger with the Father. I don’t want to sow wind, but righteousness, grace, truth and the VERY good news that I am loved so deeply by God that He taps me on the shoulder as if to say, “Enough hustle. Come sit.” And yes, that’s just the most wonderous thing ever!!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      That’s a good word, Tiffany. Thank you.

      Reply
  7. Megan Willome

    I did the same thing this weekend (although I wasn’t on a retreat, sad to say). This week marked huge deadlines at work: 31,500 words, 3 articles, 1 month. I was exhausted, so I lingered, rested. I’m back today, but still sort of lingering, in a cleaning the house kind of way. Which I’m doing slowly, mindfully. Not fretting over the future, though many of my frets have nothing to do with the election–they’re the things that are always with me. And Jesus, the only one to whom I can truly turn.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I am pondering your sentence about so many frets having nothing to do with the election. This was my observation this weekend as well. So many of the people I was with (black, white, Repub, Dem) wanted to talk very little about politics, but about the struggles of daily living, struggles with inner demons, addictions, broken families, and more. We’re all just different kinds of broken. And I say all that NOT to minimize the very valid angst over the election, only to say that people are still struggling with all the same things they were struggling with two weeks ago — the same things for which Jesus remains the answer.

      Reply
      • Megan Willome

        Yes, that’s it exactly. Early Wednesday morning (you’ll appreciate this) I was driving to boot camp. I recalled the many mornings I’d made that drive after already being up for 2-3 hours with various frets. But I’d slept well that night. We had a good workout. One person hadn’t heard the results, and we all laughed about the look on her face being the last to know. After that we talked more about Thanksgiving plans than anything. We all have struggles and “different kinds of broken,” as you said.

        Reply
  8. Michele Morin

    I scheduled an intentional time with a friend today. We drank tea, and I ignored the laundry and the writing projects — and we just caught up with each other. Such a good thing for a do-er to do!

    Reply
  9. Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Jennifer,
    “To whom shall I go?” Jesus is my rock, my refuge, my safe place in the storm. In these days….I run to Him. Amen!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    Reply
  10. Nancy Ruegg

    Not long ago I sat on the deck with my journal for a couple of hours, reveling in the last warmth of summer (that lasted well past the first day of fall on the calendar), the golden glow in the trees, the birds happy chatter, and the squirrels’ death-defying leaps from limb to limb. It WAS a beautiful, happy morning! Now, just a few weeks later, the temperature has finally dropped and trees are baring their branches. Some people dislike this time of year with its predominance of gray and brown in the landscape. But there is beauty in late fall, too–the aroma of a wood fire in someone’s fireplace, the crunch of dried leaves underfoot, the coziness of a warm mug cupped in both hands–for starters! There is happiness–even in mid-November!

    Reply
    • Jody Ohlsen Collins

      Nancy it does my heart good to hear about your lingering and listening…. (eavesdropping here.) So much goodness–even in November.
      I for one stopped to watch birds hopping and jumping about branch to branch, just to see what they could see. I smiled at their carefree ways–oh, to be like that!

      Reply
      • Nancy Ruegg

        Thank you, Jody. ‘Love your observation, too, about carefree birds!

        Reply
  11. Martha Orlando

    Oh, just for those moments we linger . . . Jennifer, I try each day to still my mind and heart into those moments. Our deck, surrounded by forest, is my go-to place, even when the weather is chilly. I bundle up against the cold and just relax in the nature all around me, the beautiful, diverse world God created.
    And there is no question as to whom I will go. It is Jesus.
    Blessings!

    Reply
  12. Leah Slawson

    Thank you, Jennifer. Solitude and silence, or ‘tucking away’ as you call it, is essential to me for emotional and spiritual health. The only answer is the presence of Christ…thank you for reminding us.

    Reply
  13. Theresa Boedeker

    This was beautiful, Jennifer, and so timely. Rush, rush, hurry, hurry. It never stops. I sometimes joke that the only time we get to really relax and just be still for longer than a few minutes is after we are dead. Kinda morbid, I know, but it does remind me that I don’t want to wait until then to tuck away for a time. This Sunday I deliberately ignored everything around the house, computer, or yard that looked like work. I took two walks with my husband. Sat on my porch swing. Savored the sunshine, And snuggled with my son. It was a good day.

    Reply
  14. Maree Dee

    Jennifer, I loved this. I intend to “linger longer” after reading this. I am not very good at being still but when I am it is always a treat. I think with the words “linger longer” on my mind I just might do it. I needed that today.

    Reply
  15. Sharita Knobloch

    Ah Jennifer– I just finished reading “The Happiness Dare” (promo/way positive review to come on my blog soon!) and loved it.

    I am a doer, and sometimes I get so wound up in the doing, I skip the lingering and miss the residual happiness. But I have been much more intentional about that lately– most recently, lingering in our finished nursery, thinking about how cool it looks (for not all the dollar bills) and dreaming about the new baby coming soon. Thanks for being SO faithful to what God calls you to do. You are a gift to many!

    Reply

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