Monday, February 25, 2008


Yesterday in church, one of our priests gave a lovely homily that was, in part, about mindfulness, about slowing down during Lent and paying attention.

Preachers talk about this all the time during Lent. I've talked about it myself.

And as it always does, even when I'm delivering it, the message strikes me as entirely wrong for this time of year. Slow down? In February and March? You've got to be kidding!

I'm under (and behind on) so many deadlines right now that I can hardly count them. I'm behind on grading. Everyone at work is stressed out and semi-crazed, not least because half the universe seems to be ill. Last night I thought I was getting sick, but threw it off; during my last class today, though, I started losing my voice, so I'm a little worried.

Slow down? Sorry: not until at least the last week in March, at least not in my world. There may be some profession where February and March are slow and soothing, but academia isn't it.

Can we move Lent to July? That would really make it much easier.

I was kvetching about this at work today to a colleague who's frazzled from caring for a sick child. (She's behind on her grading, too, although she has better reason than I do.) She laughed at the Lent bit even though she's Jewish, and then I said, "Oh, yeah, and that thing about the Sabbath? We're all supposed to take one day a week off? Yeah, right!"

My friend laughed even harder. I just don't have a day of the week that never has any commitments: I don't know anyone who does, including (or especially) clergy, and certainly not professors.

(Don't get me started on people who say things like, "Oh, you teach college. That's a cushy job: you're in class six hours a week and then you have summers off." These people have no clue about class prep, grading, committee work, or university/community service, let alone the research and publication we're all supposed to be doing. It's much more than a 9-5 job during the academic year; it slows down during the summer, but doesn't stop, even for those of us who don't teach then.)

"The best I can do," I told my friend, "is take mini-Sabbaths every day. Half an hour of swimming. Forty minutes of knitting. A cup of tea. That gives me a few minutes to live in the moment, anyway."

She thought that made sense; she'd just confessed that lately, she's become obsessed with crossword puzzles, which serve much the same function.

Of course, I'd be less behind on everything else if I were taking fewer mini-Sabbaths. But one does have to remain sane.


  1. Oi do I hear that. I gave up one of my procrastination methods for Lent, one of those small things which brings sanity by distracting me for far too long: webcomics. And have I been feeling it. Unfortunately, I do not feel much more productive. I just notice the time where I would be reading webcomics that much clearer. Maybe by Easter I'll actually achieve the goal of devoting that time to prayer or productive work on at least one occasion.

  2. That doing crossword puzzles sounds like me and Sudoku. I tried to slow down on Saturday by walking the labyrinth after officiating at Morning Prayer. Being outside, walking, and taking pictures was really rewarding.



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