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About 39 Minutes Remaining…

Center for Well-being Blog

The CMDA Center for Well-being helps Christian healthcare professionals align with God, optimize well-being and maximize influence.

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February 21, 2019

The little gray box at the upper corner of my laptop screen told me certain updates could not be completed without a restart. Might as well “Restart Now” and get it over with, so I could plunge into the day’s work without further interruption, right?

A few programming gyrations later, a little gray progress bar proclaimed “Installing update…about 39 minutes remaining.”

Ugh…

My great and carefully scheduled plans held hostage for 39 minutes…what to do?

I grabbed my Bible and devotional books. I had overslept and missed my Quiet Time today.

“Installing update…about 37 minutes remaining.” (OK. Don’t judge. You know how notoriously inaccurate these update installation calculators are. I’m sure my Quiet Time was longer than that).

I knocked off two chapters of The Climb of Your Life by my friend Ken Jones. (A great read, by the way). I watched God provide for the birds through my wife’s feeder for a few minutes. She and I discussed the tracks in the snowy field and recalled hearing the coyotes yipping the night before last. She asked my opinion about a passage in a book she is reading.

It occurred to me that this “forced white space” in my day might not be all that bad.

As a young boy learning to play guitar, I bought a two-dollar reel-to-reel tape recorder at a garage sale. When I would hear one of my favorite songs on the radio, I would run and quickly turn on the recorder. I would replay it for hours carefully figuring out the fingering of my heroes. The method worked well. I can now play dozens of songs, except for their first 20 seconds!

James Taylor is one of my favorite musicians. He doesn’t seem interested in filling all of the “white space” in his guitar work, but skillfully plays notes at just the right time to artistically support the melody. It’s almost as though the notes he doesn’t play give the song its beauty. (Any comment I make about today’s music at this point would instantly tell you how old I am, if James Taylor and reel-to-reel tape recorders have not already done so).

White space…silence…solitude…margin. These are all gifts from our LORD.

The LORD commanded His people not to harvest their fields all the way to the edges or gather the gleanings from their harvesting. He told them to leave some of the crop for “the poor and the alien” (Lev. 23:22, NIV 1984). I notice that I’m a different man when I have harvested my time, finances and emotional resources “to the edges.” I view people’s needs through a lens of irritation and resentment rather than calm consideration. When I have margin, I am more able to give cheerfully, rather than “reluctantly or under compulsion” (2 Cor. 9:7, NIV 1984).

The LORD also gave us a gift that we rarely open…the gift of Sabbath. Learning to use and cherish this gift has been one of the cornerstones of my recovery from burnout as a physician. Letting my fields lie fallow and drink in nourishment for one day each week, letting go of the need to produce and finding the white space that restores the beauty of the song of my life, have been life-giving for me. Choosing to receive His gift of Sabbath each week reminds me that the universe goes on without me under the Lord's capable leadership while I rest.

Apparently, I needed a little “white space” in my life today. Tuesday. My carefully scheduled and planned Tuesday. The Tuesday that revolved around the constant availability of my laptop.

“Installing update…about 16 minutes remaining.”

Sigh.

Wait a minute…that felt good!

1 Comment

  1. Avatar James U Scott, MD MPH on June 10, 2019 at 5:48 pm

    very good Stan; It reminds me of my need for rest and not to crowd into my days all the ” to do’s ” that work, and others seems to place in my life.
    One can put the wrong things into the space , however. That is another area of concern.
    JScottMD

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