I have a rare day off this Veteran's Day. I have been anticipating it for a while. Working outside my home is a relatively new experience for me; it's only been in the past two years that I have traded my days in the house for time spent in tutoring, housecleaning and most recently, working in classrooms as a educational assistant for special needs students.
It hasn't all been rosy, though I should say that in previous years, the mornings were filled with homeschooling which, as any mom who does it can tell you, is not exactly a calm way to greet the day. Still, there was a certain "laid-backness" even to that schedule. After all, one of the perks of homeschooling is being able to tweak the schedule as needed. But, when one works for others, there is definitely a need to adhere to the employer's start time. And, while I feel that I am growing professionally and personally through my present employment, I still miss my "old life" so to speak.
Now, that all my children are in school (one in college), I would even have the chance to be at home alone. And, I must confess, that be it age or just stress level, quietness and solitude are welcome words to me at this season. Not to say that I don't enjoy the chaos of my family togetherness, not at all. But, I am finding it is necessary to nurture my soul with quiet times so that I may more fully enter into the exuberance of the other moments.
Yet, that isn't usually possible for me at this time of life. And I am learning that it is doable. I don't have to have what I like in order to live a contented life. I do have to accept what is and learn from it. I still gaze into the future and hope that someday the pattern will be altered, but for now, I know God has provided work for me that is a blessing to our family, and I am thankful for it.
But, back to today. . . I feel the pull to get as close as possible to the "good life." Indulging in coffee time, browsing in shops that I only see occasionally, soaking up the atmosphere of Monday urban America. It's what we value about our way of life, isn't it. The freedom to take time off, see the sites, shop if we feel like it, and have a say in the direction of our lives. And I have to confess that I am writing this while sitting in a booth at Panera Bread. And yes, there is a green coffee mug on the table to my right. So, obviously, I have not totally rejected the temptations!
Yet, I am reminded of the news this morning - catastrophic conditions in the Philippines from the recent typhoon; many people on these islands are barely hanging on to their very lives. I see the sign here at Panera offering Veteran's a free "pick 2" with their ID; this is a group of people who have and are putting the needs of others before their own desires to indulge and many of them have never returned to enjoy the benefits of the American they fought for.
So, in all my enjoyment of the day, there must be a recognition that it is a gift, earned by others and enjoyed by few. I must not believe that I am entitled to my "day off" as though I were better than millions in this world who today are hungry, abused, homeless or impoverished. I must not look at these hours as "blank time" which doesn't count in the accounting of my days. I must remember that every moment is one allotted me by a gracious Providence who keeps His own counsel about the whys and wherefores of this world. The "secret things" belong to Him says Deuteronomy, and He is best able to keep all things in balance.
I have to look at my work days the same way as my rare "off day" - what is given for the moment, without indulging either in guilt or narcissim. I must leave the pattern of my days in His hand. And, within the framework of that acceptance, I can plan how best to find enjoyment in every 24 hour slot on the calendar. After all, it is very possible that I am much more thrilled with a "day off" now than I ever was when I didn't know the difference!