Wednesday, June 27, 2007

sit, stay...good Matt

It is an overcast day in Fayetteville. Against my newfound quest to support local businesses, I have meandered to Starbuck’s. This is one of the ways I have opted to enjoy the week before class starts back.

Ginny loves rain. So it has been a good summer for her. She has been busy preparing for a show and readying for her world travels. Within the next couple of weeks Ginny will be heading to New York and Chicago. Although I am ecstatic for my metropolitan-hopping wife, it is tough to swallow the fact that our only trip together will be Conway, Arkansas. We are not often apart and I prefer it that way.

To her dismay, we have had nightly drills requiring her to recite what we will call the, “Big City Rules”. These include things I deem important knowledge for travels without the bodyguard that is me; they include such tidbits as a ban on any mode of transportation other than taxi after 8pm. I will be happy to provide the rest to anyone who will be traveling sans accompaniment from muscle-bound arm candy.

On the topic of our hoped-for respite night to help special needs families, we would appreciate some prayer if you are so inclined. We had hoped to host the Friday night event at our local church- Fellowship Bible. However, another great ministry presents a conflict that night and, thus, we are looking for a host. We have all taken the view, that if it is meant to happen, a location will open up.

The things I hate the most are the very things that I struggle against. As I survey the coffee house scene, I am reminded of a huge pet peeve of mine. Everyone is busy. These days, it seems vogue to be occupied. It appears that, somehow, my worth is connected to the pace of my life. The busier I am, the more significant I must be.

Other than avoiding conversation, it is nothing short of counter-culture to reply, “nothing” when asked what you have been doing that day. I often feel a twinge of guilt or shame come upon me when time is set aside for anything other than tasks.

However, something of worth that has developed through my grief journey with Eliot has been the freedom to steal away time for myself. I need to do nothing. Sit, think, maybe even pray. No tasks, no chores. Maybe minutes at a time, maybe more. This is something we allow for grief, but it should not be reserved only for the grieving. Despite the push of our lives and our society, we all need to sit still.

It is these times of reflection that have allowed me to see cracks of light that exist throughout my day. My time of reflection does not always seem productive. Many times it is a battle and is forced or even abandoned- a straightjacket would often be helpful. Nonetheless, I credit these times of nothing with helping me to get past the embossed surface of life.

Under the surface, I have found portals to the divine. Always present, but not always obvious. This is just like the God who chose to speak in parables. He longs to be sought. Evil assails us- in your face and difficult to deny. Beauty, with few exceptions, must be found.

When I am able to ruminate on things other then myself or my busy schedule, I see beauty peeking out behind it all. Thus, everyday becomes a little more beautiful. This time for nothing was not my idea. The Word reveals a Jesus who, in the midst of a pressing schedule, often pulls away from the crowd to be alone. This was a man who saw through a day’s happenings and perceived much more.

Be still, and know that I am God
Psalms 46:10

Gotta go. I’ve got lots to do!


Amy R. said...

Matt, my husband and I really enjoy your blog. And we also hate the business of life that we find ourselves in all too often. We wish we lived in a small town and not the big city. We would love to be able to say that we did "nothing" in response to that popular question without being ashamed. Your outlook is so refreshing. Thanks and we hope that Ginny stays safe and happy during her travels. - The Riley's in St. Louis

vanessa said...

I love times of nothingness. to sit and just be, to think. but there never seems to be enough of them. I guess its what you do with those few moments that make life better or worse, to dwell on the past or as you do pray and re-joyous in happy times you've had.

Terrill said...

um...I guess there are no points for just lazy?
Just yesterday I was pressed by the assistant manager of my department to be more..."flexible" and help fill in some shifts that came available when co-workers requested vacation. "They will be more willing to fill in when you take off", I was told.

When I was 20, even 30, I would work every extra shift I could. Now, at 46, I question how an employer can call vacation a benefit when one is made to feel guilty for not making up the days taken off. I am not so quick to sign up for extra work in my old age, up till now I thought I was just lazy, but you finally help me justify it as therapeutic.

Next time they want me to fill a hole on the schedule, I will tell them, "sorry, that's my mental health day" or "I will be using that day for sitting still and reflecting, that's the day I have "nothing" on my schedule, it's been scheduled for awhile, and I can't get out of it"

Seriously, time to reflect is time to renew and refresh. I love mine and wish I had learned to appreciate it more and make time for it at an earlier age.

We'll continue to keep respite night in our prayers, and we will be praying for safe journey for Ginny and comfort for you both while you are apart.
Enjoy the rain, and the coffee.

Have a great week.

FunkyMonkeyJunk said...

Matt, this post touched a chord with me. I am a busy-body. My spirit is fed by being around people. I love interaction, I love listening, I love talking, I love comforting others, I love laughing, I love the physical human touch. I crave it! When I don't have it, I go a little stir crazy. But God has taught me this past year that I REALLY need to work on time alone. Specifically time alone with Him. Instead of feeling resentful at quiet time, I find myself wanting more of it. I am not always disciplined about it like I should be, but when I "come to" and just do it, I often wonder, Why am I fighting this? Why am I not doing this every day? Why do I get so easily distracted?

Thank you for reminding me that my busy-ness does not make me more important or more loved or more significant. But more often than not, it makes me more disconnected from my Father. I needed to hear that today.

Prayers that Ginny has a wonderful trip in spite of being "muscle-bound arm candy-less". :-)

Katy said...


You just described my life! I've been sensing the need to be still. So hard!

And if Ginny is in Chicago I would love to see her. Let me know if you need my phone # or email.

RobinsonGirls said...

This simple verse is one of my favorites!

Jeanine said...

You are a wise man. I needed this reminder today and I think I might just go have me a little Starbucks IN the coffee shop instead of zipping through the drive-through today! Quiet times are the best.

MoonNStarMommy said...

I wanted to reach out to you, I saw Eliot's video tonight and I bawled, because A: it touched me so deeply, and B: I completely understand. Although I do not understand the loss, I understand every other part of it. My son has Mosaic Trisomy 16. I can relate so much. I was told that he would not live either, and he has... I know, like me, you enjoyed every moment with Eliot and you cherish it, and you want nothing more then to tell his story to leave his mark where he cannot. When I found out about Noah's disorder, I was encouraged to rid myself of my not "normal" child... and I said no. I decided at that moment, that I would love him, and accept whatever time I was given with him. Even if it was just a moment...

I just wanted to send my love... feel free to contact me if you'd like.

Mrs. Olivia said...

Good morning! Just wanted you to know that I love you both and continue to pray for Peace and joy for you! That "being still" part is not the mantra of today's world-we seem to be busier but accomplish less- I know from teaching, it is so much harder to get students to focus- Too many distractions and too accustomed to sensory overload- I was privileged to be at your wedding- His presence was and is still with you-Have a great day! Love and prayers, mrs. olivia

Liza's Eyeview said...

Thanks for the reminder to be still. I placed a link to here:

Anonymous said...

My wife and I have followed your blog recently, since a friend told us of your family's incredible story. You might look into St. Paul's Episcopal Church as a venue for your respite ministry. They tend to be very receptive to needs in the community. It's possible you'll run into scheduling conflicts there as well, as the church is heavily used. It's worth a shot, though.

Anonymous said...

Where does one begin to thank you, your wife Ginny and above all your son, Eliot? You have inspired me to always choose to look to love in the corners that seem lightless. Many many many many thanks for Eliot! He taught me with words...and your words, Matt taught me about love...WOW! You need to write a book...Letters to Eliot...I would be honoured to write an will be Eliot centered! THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

Your family touched my heart deeply when I saw you on Oprah. That video was the most beautiful celebration of life I have ever seen. Thank you so much for sharing it. God bless you.

Melissa Hampton, Crowley, Texas

Alli said...

i'm so sorry about elliot. i watched the video on YouTube. it makes me cry every time! i miss him, and i never even met him! but he is most definately in heaven now...

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I guess its what you do with those few moments that make life better or worse, to dwell on the past or as you do pray and re-joyous in happy times you've had.
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