This morning I said goodbye to the girls and my husband, Martin, and I drove through rare and welcome midmorning sunshine to the ferry dock. After a peaceful hour’s ride, we exited the mouth of the ferry, whisked through the bustle of Seattle, wound up the still-snowy mountain pass, and rocketed out into the vast, desolate rolling hills. No kids in the back seat, a podcast murmuring quiet wisdom, and a hot cup of coffee: bliss. A chance at last to cultivate what Lindsay talked about so well in her Consider this week: the art of inwardness.
Now I sit alone in the hotel room with the hum of the air-conditioning and congestive rattle of the mini fridge. As soon as Martin left to see colleagues (this is work trip), I fought the urge to flip on the T.V. Instead, I sat down with a glass of wine to mull over what Martin said after I got off the phone with Lindsay this afternoon. “You’re so busy,” he said, “I wonder if you’ve taken time to slow down and reflect on the process of launching Each Holy Hour?” You mean like metacognition, I answered, using a word educators love. He smiled.
Metacognition is about thinking and talking honestly about your own learning process. So as I begin to narrate the process of building Each Holy Hour, a project for wonder, I admit to myself that my recent preoccupation with the many “ticks on the to-do list” that Lindsay described in her meditation has had nothing to do with encountering wonder. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed moments of loveliness as I’ve waded through a thick morass of details of building a new website and content. Even in the thicket of logistics, even as I clawed my way up the steep learning-curve of technology, I’ve found time to hug my kids, take in our blooming cherry tree, stand hushed and awed over a nest of newly hatched chickadees.
But I’ve reflected very little. I’ve been glued to my phone and my computer so much that my eyes have become achy and bloodshot. I’ve been myopic and obsessed, not inward–there’s a big difference: “Inwardness is a summons that resists stress and hustle, an orientation to the world, not something that can be gained by doing.”
I struggle with the tension of keeping my life balanced. When you parent three kids, work a part-time job, and write to boot, getting things done is hard-won. On launch day, all my daughters were home sick. As I face-timed Lindsay about the first Consider, her daughter (home sick!), jostled her elbow and asked questions.
But now after two weeks of doing, I feel unmoored from the very things that Each Holy Hour is all about: solitude, reflection, face-to-face, unhurried communion with people.
Flashback two months ago to a walk on the beach by grey Puget Sound. Lindsay had made the drive from Montana to visit us. Our kids picked their way through shallow pools, collecting crabs and eels. We tiptoed through thousands of sand dollars stacked in the sand–like shingles, Lindsay observed. We dragged sticks in the sand, bent down to pocket smooth, ancient stones, lingered over driftwood. And we discussed our passion for contemplation and our need for silence. We talked about Each Holy Hour.
Life is about dwelling in that tension between doing and being. Some hours are as spacious and silent as the hilly farmland we drove through this afternoon; others are as hectic and noisy as downtown Seattle. Sometimes we hold our breath, lower our gaze, and plow through the crowd, and other days we wander blissfully under a wide, open sky.
But finding balance demands more from me than just silencing my phone for a few moments to snap up some convenient inwardness. Inwardness is an “orientation to the world.” It’s a way of being, a way of breathing, if you will. And in a culture that measures me by my productivity, I need to exhale and open my hands.