There are many things I could say about my dad today. 12 years without him is a lifetime of moments he didn’t get to witness or experience. However, today I will choose not to dwell on the reality that he isn’t around anymore. Sure, it’s not easy, but I rest in the truth that he is in God’s presence… and has been for the last 12 years! Wow!
My dad carried a heavy and busy schedule. He was a husband, father, pastor, teacher, mentor, visionary, director… you name it, he was or had carried such title. He was able to read multiple books at a time, prep and write sermons in multiple languages, travel, take classes, entertain guests, manage finances, and even take an entire family grocery shopping on a weekend. There are many things I can’t recollect about how our household ran. And I still have NO CLUE how he could do it all. But there is ONE THING I specifically remember…
My dad went for walks… a lot. Almost daily. I have vivid memories of dad opening the living room screen glass door and saying it was time for his walk. I didn’t think anything of it then. “Dad just likes to walk”, was my thinking. AND, more often than not, he walked out with a mug at hand. Tea. He would take his tea cup/mug with him. Never understood why. At one point, I probably thought that he just needed a break from all the reading and studying. He needed to stretch his legs. And he liked drinking tea in the afternoon.
That was then… and here is my thinking NOW. My dad liked tea… Jasmine tea to be exact. And since I can’t remember whether or not he was a coffee drinker (like I am), I’m assuming tea was his comfort drink. If you know me, you know that I'm a coffee fan. I like coffee. I like the warmth of it. I like the taste and the smell of it. I like holding a mug while reading a good book. It's a comfort drink for me. AND… going for a walk was his version of Self-Care. Yup. I now have a name for what he did.
The same term I heard so many times throughout my college & graduate school career! The term I use to describe those intentional efforts to care for our souls, to keep our sanity, to be kind to ourselves. The term I still use when I want to refocus. To rest. To take a deep breath. And most recently… the term I use to make sense of Spiritual Whitespace. My newly found friend Bonnie Gray describes this concept of Spiritual Whitespace as a “creative way of spending time with God to slow down and feed your soul, to rejuvenate and enjoy soul rest.” Taking care of ourselves by spending time with God.
How often am I taking intentional time to breathe? How often am I allowing my soul to rest? How intentional am I when it comes to STOPPING the auto-pilot mode of my life?
So, today… despite 12 long years without my dad on this earth… I celebrate the lesson I learned from the silence of his routine. His daily walks holding a tea cup will forever represent my need to intentionally find moments in my day to STOP and rest my soul. Whether he was doing it for physical health or to escape the reality of his busyness and relationship conflicts… he knew how to ‘get out’.
Oh oh oh… another quick note. My dad didn’t always go on his walks alone. Oh no. He enjoyed taking my brothers along. And I even remember going with him once or twice (Nope… I wasn’t a fan of walking around the block back then… Oh, how I wish I could go on such walks with him now…). Self-Care does not need to be something I do in solitude. It can be done WITH my family or in community. Self-care is important and needed.
How are you doing with that? How am I doing with that? What do you do to take care of your soul? How do you spend time with God to care for your soul? Do you have whitespace in your life right now? Want to learn more about Spiritual Whitespace? Let me know in the comments below… would love to chat more about it.