I read a terrific post the other day that I can’t stop thinking about. It was called Let’s Linger Longer and Fall in Love (I’ll leave the link below). It caught my attention because the word linger isn’t one we hear often but it’s one I love. To me, it feels like a beautiful invitation to slow down. An opportunity to breathe and be present in the moment. I looked up the definition of linger and here is how it is defined:
Linger: to remain or stay on in a place longer than is usual or expected, as if from reluctance to leave. To dwell in contemplation, thought, or enjoyment.
How often do we take time to linger though? In a world where rushing is the norm what prevents us from taking these moments to simply be present in the lingering? Courtney, the author of the article I mentioned above shares this insight:
“Guilt impedes our ability to linger longer, and so does busyness, or the habit of busyness. Guilt tells us if we do more, we can be more, have more, and prove to everyone else that we are more. We think if we have free time, our house should be cleaner, or our children should be involved in more activities, or we should be finding ways to fill up all of our time. Those are the lies that guilt tells us, but guilt doesn’t stand a chance when we are fully present. When we turn our attention to the meaning of the moment we are in, we don’t trust the lies, or feel the pull to do more.”
Oh my yes to all of that, it’s so powerful. Let me write it again.
Guilt doesn’t stand a chance when we are fully present.
I learned the beautiful ability to linger from my teenage son. Yes you read that right. My son (he’s now 19), from the time he was small, has absolutely hated to be rushed. The words “hurry up” were not part of this child’s vocabulary. Words implying any sort of “move it” terminology often went ignored. He’s still that way to this day. It used to exasperate me to no end when he was younger. But as he got older I realized what a special gift this child was giving me.
He taught me the joy that comes from lingering at the table after a meal sharing conversation and laughter. The joy that comes from living in an unhurried moment with someone else or myself. The joy that comes from living in the moment and not thinking about what’s next on my to do list. And most importantly about letting go of the guilt that wants to convince me that I’m lazy for not getting that list checked off.
My son came home from college this past weekend for Thanksgiving and after we all ate, the two of us sat in the living room and talked and talked for 6 hours straight! He was in no rush and was completely in the moment. He didn’t even check his phone! It was a beautiful, beautiful gift indeed.
And while this wasn’t always easy for me to do, I now live for these moments of lingering. Whether it’s lingering with someone else or the sweet gift I simply give to myself. The gift of watching a sunset for just a few moments longer. The gift of spending a few moments chatting in the check out line at the grocery store with perfect strangers. The gift of seeing the beauty of a cold snowy day through the lens of my camera. The gift of just sitting quietly with myself and God over a hot cup of tea. The gift of dancing solo in my living room to just one more song.
Of course this will look different for everyone based on seasons of life. But when time is limited, I think we can still practice the awareness of seeing the best in whatever moment we are in and be present there. Even if only for a few minutes.
There are so many gifts in the ordinary of days. I don’t want to miss them because I now know that it is precisely these things that feed my soul. Courtney describes lingering as falling in love and I couldn’t agree more.
You see, lingering is not something you do when everything else is done. It can’t be because when are we ever truly done? The minute you think you are caught up, there is something else demanding your attention. Please don’t put off the lingering. It’s not a check list item. Instead it’s a way of being that is mindful of these often simple opportunities to linger. The extraordinary of the ordinary can easily be missed in the busyness of life.
But how do we find the time?
First it’s about realizing that we will never be “done” all that needs to be done. However, we can certainly lessen those tasks that need to be done. Organizing and decluttering the amount of stuff we own cuts down on the time it takes to manage it all. Simplifying our schedules also makes a huge difference. Please go read my post on How to Slow Down in a Super Fast World where I list six really practical steps to help you slam on the brakes of the chaos train so you can truly experience the benefits of living a simpler slower way of life.
As for learning to linger, this can be difficult at first if it’s not something you are used to doing. It will require an intentional daily practice of finding those bursts of happiness that you are reluctant to leave. And it may also be an intentional daily practice of choosing not to rush to the next thing that has to be done. The dishes can wait. Put down your phone. Don’t be so quick to fill every single moment with stuff and activities. Be present in whatever you are doing. And most importantly lose the guilt.
This daily practice of learning to linger has now turned into an immense longing for me. Something I crave and need in my life daily.
So how do you slow down time? You take a moment to linger and fall in love with the beautiful ordinary gifts that wait to be opened every single day.
Read the article Let’s Linger Longer and Fall in Love HERE.
Have a great weekend everyone!