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Day 39: Time in Community...

I’ve been thinking about calendaring, as a verb. How do you calendar your time? Heart-wise? Efficiently? With contemplative neglect?

I used to have a fear-laden way with my calendar, like it signaled connection if there were an abundance of meetings, but isolation, disconnection, even abandonment, if there weren’t. It colored all my relationships, from early ages to near middle-age. If I didn’t have a time on my calendar for a friend, I’d question whether we were truly friends. Really. Distrust, fear, feeling unseen and alone would rise, even to panic-levels, if my calendar couldn’t prove I belonged. This no longer has such pull, blessedly. A dear friend walked me through a new relationship with time, connection, and trust years ago.

A small group to which I was assigned began with the calendar-domination of another, a clear drive for our monthly meeting dates before all else. Belatedly, I realized I was sad and a little angry that we spent nearly 30 of our 35 minutes scheduling when we could have been getting to know one another a bit more gently than we did. This colleague continues to be governed by her schedule in which we may or may not matter, in the end. I feel for her, of course, as I can feel my own desire for order for the gatherings of an entire community. Preparation suggests a value of advance planning for care and hospitality of all. Except we don’t organize ourselves with advance calendars, with one counter-example being the 4-day events. Retreat centers require that much order. When the whole group gathers, it’s hit or miss who can actually come because we may have only gotten two weeks notice of the call. Having led entire communities, I empathize with the impossibility of calendaring with others. Might as well organize it according to your own preferences and hope for the best. I also appreciate being there more than catching the recording if not. A tension here interests me…

Do you let calendaring go so you get to be with the people you love, or could love? Does any of us, easily? Only those with flexible work hours?

The thing I love about getting free of the calendar is the spontaneity and growing trust of a relational center, people before structure. I empathize with my colleague’s need to drive the scheduling discussion; she’s a busy professional trying to be many places at once. But I’m also exquisitely grateful for my dear friend’s patient coaxing of my own professional self into a slower-paced, contemplative, trusting woman who sometimes throws out the calendar. It took her years of persistent reminders of her love for me, regardless of calendar, mind you. Years. But it was so liberating…

I got to learn that spontaneity and trust are body-connection things, never calendaring ones. No wasted time on what-if’s for my small group, but my heart aches a little for the presumptions and missed opportunities that ‘professionalized time’ exacts on so many of us.

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