I am having one of those weeks when you drop the thought bucket into the well of good ideas…and it clunks on the dry ground. I don’t call it writer’s block as I have been tapping on these keys incessantly of late, or so it seems. Ya can’t just keep pulling bucket after bucket out of the reservoir. I simply have to relax and wait for the spring to gurgle along for a bit. Huh, I think I came up with an idea.
We are living in a funny time, spending longer stretches than usual in one or a few places. On the one hand, we have less to do. On the other, we are going to the activity well more often to figure out what to do when we don’t have anything to do. Clunk goes the bucket again. And we get more and more frustrated with life. Though we’re not terribly good at doing nothing, maybe that’s exactly what we need to do.
I admit that I worry (at least a little) when I make a statement like that. I can hear a parent or two shouting through cyberspace, YOU try to do nothing with three kids!! Yep, I get it: another way I am privileged, although I would cherish the opportunity to be bugged by my Oregon-based grandbuddy. Still, I suggest (with fear and trepidation) that maybe we need to build into our stay-at-home times a little more appreciation for doing nothing. I mean doing nothing. Turning off the TV. Putting away the reading materials. Sitting in your comfy chair. NOT listening to the news. Taking a nap even though you are not tired. For a few minutes, to practice doing nothing.
I remember years ago leading summer campers at Camp Fowler in the Adirondacks. Sabbath was the week’s theme. I set about stuffing as many activities into the week as possible. I threw my bucket into the well for another idea and, splash, a brilliant thought: Right after the energizers and the silly skits during our gathering times, I asked the middle schoolers to do…nothing! Being realistic, I think I started with five seconds. We increased the time whenever we gathered. Amazingly (to me, anyway), they began to enjoy the challenge, and even policed (kindly) the errant throat-clearer or tactical cougher. No rigorous scientific survey was done, but doing nothing in the presence of 150 other campers became a highlight of the week.
That’s my dad’s old recliner in the picture above. He loved doing nothing in that chair. I happily inherited it and have dragged it with me to multiple interim stops. You know what I love to do in that chair? NOTHING!! Yep, I’ve proudly become like my dad, who worked his butt off for nearly his whole life, sometimes holding down three jobs to take care of his seven kiddies. Dad taught me a lot. One of the lessons was the value of sabbath—doing nothing. It’s biblical, you know. And really healthy. Even in pandemics. So I encourage you to imagine how doing nothing on purpose, even in really small doses, might help you experience the refreshing and renewing peace of Christ which passes all understanding. Let me know how you do.
The Rev. Conley A. Zomermaand, PhD
(618) 606-1053—after office hours; emergencies