Recently I have had the opportunity to connect - and to reconnect - with some people in my life I haven't seen in a long time. A few weeks ago, I met up with two of my high school friends who I have not seen literally since we walked off the football field at graduation. I had lunch with a former pastor and seminary professor I had not seen in years. I had a joint birthday dinner with a friend I don't get to see very often. I met up with grown up Girl Scout friends from years as a leader. I shared a beautiful outdoor fall evening with a friend I haven't seen in person since before Covid. I got to do an overnight with a friend from out of state. I've been purposeful about phone calls lately. I've made it a priority to connect - these are just a few of the intentional events of the last couple of months.
I must admit I got a little nervous before some of these, but each and every one of these left me feeling happy. I loved catching up, sharing memories, lingering outside on a lovely evening, trying somewhere new. I am 100% glad I made the time to do these things.
And yes - I purposely use the word "made" the time. Because frankly, none of us feel like we "have" the time. I know someone reading this will be thinking, "Must be nice to have time to get together with friends!" Or "You sure read a lot of books - must be nice!" Or "I heard you went on a trip - must be nice!" Or - well, fill in the blank.
So - the truth is - it sure IS nice. I am so grateful for these opportunities. But life is also not a competition - and when we make time to spend connecting with others it is not because we have nothing else to do.
It is because people are important.
Reading, traveling, or anything you enjoy for that matter - is important.
The non-profit group Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life recently remarked in an Instagram post, "If you're too busy for the things you enjoy, you need clearer priorities and healthier boundaries." READ. THAT. AGAIN.
After all, what is life without joy? Or without love? It goes by way too fast to not have enough time for either.
The Book of Ecclesiastes focuses on just this. The author calls everything vanity, pointing out that the world keeps turning, and that our time here is just a vapor that passes quickly. So - what we decide to do with our little bit of time is important. We never know when it is too late. And as depressing as that sounds, it is the weird gift that a worldwide pandemic gave us - to remind us how to cherish time face to face with those we love. Time to enjoy the pleasures of life. Or, as Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven."
We all have plenty of responsibilities - and there are so many things life demands of us. But don't use those responsibilities as an excuse to ignore real joy in your life. And... don't guilt others into feeling bad for making choices to honor their own happiness. We all have to stop assuming our own resentment is someone else's fault, and start making the choices that honor our souls and those we love.
Choose joy. Do things that bring you happiness. Connect with others. Be thankful.
Life is short.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
- Mary Oliver, "Wild Geese"