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Re-orientation To Life

September 18, 2020

Kris Camealy


Back in March, over the course of a certain week, virtually every appointment on my calendar vanished. The initial shock came in waves, accompanied by disbelief, disappointment, grief, and a lingering sense of disorientation. It wasn’t just the loss of the specific appointments and activities, but also the way the loss of them erased our familiar rhythms too. What day is it? We’d ask each other. Monday’s had been marked by my boys Taekwondo classes, and Tuesday’s, by my daughter’s dance classes. On Wednesday’s we had piano lessons and horseback riding, and Thursday’s we had co-op. Now, everything was cancelled. Full stop.

I confess, initially, I fell victim to self-pity and a bout of cynicism. I asked all of the typical and tired, “why me?” questions before I found my bearings again. I told God how to do His job more than once, but He did not do what I asked. His ways are not my ways. Let the earth rejoice in that.

After the shock and grief have faded, we are entering into this autumn season with significantly less on our calendar, —except now, it is mostly by choice.

The gift that came to us wrapped in the tragic trappings of a world-wide pandemic, was the treasure of unhurried living. A rhythm we hadn’t known in many moons. What initially looked like nothing but destruction, brought an opening of sorts, —a widening for us to consider. What we discovered in the sudden erasing of our familiar routines was a chance to sit down for dinner before 8PM. We found we had time to bake bread on a Monday or a Thursday, —a luxury that had been reserved only for weekends, if it happened at all. We stopped setting our alarm clocks for a few weeks, we let our weary, anxious bodies rest without fear of oversleeping and missing an appointment. We ate slower, and longer meals. We watched movies we’d been talking about watching but didn’t have time for. We read books for hours. We made art, for art’s sake. We taught ourselves new skills, thanks to YouTube videos and audio books from the library. We took walks, bike rides and long sits out on the back deck.

As the calendar turns again now, and we find ourselves welcoming autumn, we have deliberately said “no” to activities that have begun again. We have sided with our soul’s need for less hustle and more quietness. Admittedly, it helps that the lingering of the pandemic makes these decisions not to return to this or that activity, a little easier. But the bigger deciding factor has been that we’ve seen life on the other side. We’ve lived the steady flurry of activity, and we’ve been drained dry by the non-stop rattle of practically living in the van, as we make our way to and from this or that obligation. For this season, anyway, we are saying no to reviving that old rhythm. We are re-orienting ourselves to life.

Our new pace is one of less. It turns out, we don’t have to be driven by our calendar.

In episode 140 of her Next Right Thing Podcast, Author, Emily P. Freeman’s talks about doing the opposite of what you think is expected of you, or of what you usually do. This struck me as particularly timely, as autumn so often feels like a season of ramping up, a season of adding more obligations and activities to our already-full lives. As I listened to that podcast the other day, it felt like confirmation, that for us at least, in this season of more, we are embracing less. What we re-discovered in quarantine was the forgotten joy of having “nowhere” to go.

As this school year unfolds, we are making a deliberate effort to choose more judiciously, those things which we want to say yes to, and which invitations to respectfully decline. Our decisions are not easy. Not everyone will understand why we are opting out of this or that “good thing”. But the tradeoff is a sense of rooting deeper, after cultivating shallow roots for too long.

Autumn always feels a little like the New Year, like an expansive invitation to begin again.

The scent of freshly sharpened pencils and the smooth covers of new notebooks whisper possibility. What story will we write with our lives in these months? How will we make room for growing in a season defined by the harvest? In choosing to do the opposite, it feels as if we are doing both at once—harvesting and growing. We are saving up the memories we are making together as a family, and growing deeper in our relationships with each other.

If we’ve learned anything these last many months, it is that life can change in an instant. We are not promised tomorrow. In fact, we are not promised even that. Let this season find us together, making the most of the time we have been given. Let it find us in the kitchen, barefoot with flour-dusted cheeks and music blaring. Let it find us on the couch between too many throw-pillows and a stack of books on our laps. Let it find us facing each other instead of seated behind one another in the car. Let it find us re-oriented to the life we’ve been given, harvesting hope for winter, which we know will be here before we feel ready for her.  

The featured image is courtesy of Julie jablonski and used with her kind permission for Cultivating and The Cultivating Project.


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  1. Michelle pitonyak says:

    This is SO good Kris!

  2. This is beautiful, Kris! A beautiful reminder of the gift that the past few upside-down months have given us. As much as I have enjoyed the way my rhythms have been reset since March, I keep catching myself trying to pile more on my plate, trying to get back to that busyness because that feels like normal, even if it wasn’t a very good normal. So this piece is very timely!

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