When I was about 11, a group of families traveled north to the Escanaba River in Michigan to go canoeing. It’s a beautiful river set amidst the background of very lush and variegated trees.
For practically the entire day, my canoe was in front, leading them all. And periodically, my Dad (who was in the back of my canoe) made comments like, “This isn’t a race.”
For as long as I can remember, speed has been a desirable thing. I type fast. I walk fast. I even drive fast. When I was young, I would practice classical and ragtime piano pieces until I could play them at lightening speed, unconcerned that the composer might have had a different tempo in mind.
So, getting sidelined by a back injury has challenged my habit of always moving fast.
I’ve learned some of the obvious lessons that we have all read about. But here are a few that I didn’t expect.
- I’m less scattered. Since I can’t physically twist and bend at will, I’ve had to be more focused on what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. So I’ve had to stop trying to do more than one thing at a time.
- I’m using muscles differently. I can’t bend over to reach for something without pain, so now I bend my knees all the time to get low enough to grasp something. Like the physical muscles, I’ve found myself using mental muscles differently, too.
- I’m less likely to jump quickly into something. I spent a lot of time on the floor now with my legs elevated because sitting is uncomfortable. As a result, I can’t flit from one thing to another as easily because it just takes a lot more energy and movement.
- I edit a lot more–I edit what I think, what I say, what I write, what I do. For example, I have found myself rewriting emails a lot more than I ever did.
- I can change my habits–for the good. Physical therapy has helped me create new habits that include the exercises that I need to be doing. While that may not sound like a huge thing, I’m not the best at changing my routine.
Before the new parish/school year completely overwhelms you, get away from your desk and try doing some of your work in a new place or in a new position, e.g., sitting on the floor or at a coffee shop. See how this small change impacts the way in which you do your work, and think about how you can integrate that insight into how you do your ministry in the future.