“Look at this one, Nina,” Isabelle said, pulling a large book from the tightly packed shelves. “The Man in the Moon,” she pronounced proudly. I smiled. At six-years-old, Isabelle has just learned to read, and the wonder of it is not lost on her. Or me.
When I picked her up after school today, she jumped into the van waving her library card. “Look what I brought!” So of course we headed to the library. On the way there, Isabelle read to me from a Junie B book. “They’re my favorite,” she said, pulling several more in the series out of her backpack.
My small town library is one of those remarkable places that nurtures wonder. And imagination. In the children’s area, you can enter the picturebook section by ducking through a small door in the wall. Along the windows stands a re-creation of the Polar Express, where kids can climb inside and settle down for a trip to the North Pole. A big checker board, with wooden snowflakes and clouds for pieces, sits on a table near a bank of computers.
I wasn’t sure which of us was having more fun.
Finally, Isabelle had made her choices. The Man in the Moon and Inside Outside Christmas (because “it’s always ok to read about Christmas”). Also tucked under her arm was Delia’s Dull Day—which I suspicioned was not going to be dull at all. She’d even chosen one for her two younger brothers: B is for Bulldozer.
At the checkout desk, she proudly presented her library card. I stood to the side, letting Isabelle handle the transaction on her own. The librarian scanned each book, then slid a piece of paper in the top one. “These will be due on March 11,” she said pleasantly as she handed the stack across the counter.
Isabelle stood there for a moment, a serious expression darkening her blue eyes. “I don’t really keep track of days,” she said matter-of-factly.
I assured the nice lady that the books would be returned in due time, and Isabelle and I headed back to the van with her armload of treasures.
But I couldn’t get those words out of my head: I don’t really keep track of days.
How long since I could say that? As a child, only a few days each year had been truly noteworthy: Christmas, my birthday, our annual 4-H trip to Coney Island Amusement Park. These were peaks, rising from the valley of contented play and daily chores.
Now my calendar is full. If I find a day with nothing written in, I assume I must have forgotten something. Appointments with the dentist and doctor. Lunch with friends. Deadlines. Church commitments. Family obligations and plans.
I keep track of days. Boy, do I!
And you probably do, too.
But maybe what the world needs is a few blank squares on calendars. A minor revolt against progress and performance. Jesus said, “Consider the lilies of the field…” (Maybe I should pencil that in….) In our efficiency at filling our time, we forget how precious time is. We assume more is better, that even God will be impressed by our diligence and hustle.
I’m not sure He is.
God, who lives outside of time, is concerned with how we spend ours. “Be still, and know that I am God” (46:10). “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15). He wants us to take time to ponder our days, to savor our hours, to resist the urge to overschedule.
Of course, we are all (more of less) grown-ups and, unlike Isabelle, we must keep track of days. But perhaps we can relax a bit. Perhaps we can, with the Psalmist, thank God that “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16).
Be still. That fits nicely in a few of the spaces left on my calendar.