Slow down and enjoy your family


I recently enjoyed one of the best days of my life.

It didn’t involve a sweepstakes win or public award. I spent it running simple errands with my 2-year-old daughter. It was a day I could’ve spent forever in, that was made possible by two factors that both involve struggles, but blessings: Lent and the fact that my wife has to work.

While Western Easter has passed, Orthodox Christians (who use an older method of calculating the celebration of Christ’s resurrection) are in the middle of Lent. And although this season prescribes abstinence from certain foods, a key to receiving its full benefit is to join to that fast a laying aside of entertainment and busyness.

Lent is a time to slow down and quiet down. This means spending more time being present to those around you.

In our house, instead of watching movies on the couch to relax, we pull out the board games and interact. It also means spending less time online, even with tasks as seemingly necessary as emails.

All of which meant that on the wonderful day with my daughter, one thing that made it so was not suffering from the illusion that I needed to be “productive” (i.e., tied to my computer). Lent gave me no excuse not to be fully present — which should more often be the case.

We actually spend a lot of time one-on-one, because momma’s got to work. She enjoys being a nurse, finds it rewarding, but the original impetus behind her entry into the workforce was necessity. Most clergy I know either have a second job, or working wives.

Which is why my wife attended the Colorado State University-Pueblo nursing program and now works part time for a family doctor. This makes me Father Dad. And like Lent, there’ve been struggles associated.

I’ve learned a lot about my weaknesses, especially impatience in those early years watching my first two children. But with No. 3, I hope I’ve mellowed.

So how did our perfect day go? It began with picking up some dried beans at the grocery store, where I sat her in the moving-truck-shaped cart and let her steer us down the aisle. Then to Petco (free mini-zoo), where she adored the lizards.

At city hall, I let her feed our dead batteries into the recycling bin (which took forever, but hey, it’s Lent). At the park, I enjoyed swinging her probably more than she enjoyed being swung. Lastly, some messy veggie tacos for lunch. She fell asleep in the van on the way home, so I carried her to bed for a short nap that I probably needed more.

There are certainly great events taking place right now in politics and global affairs. I could’ve written about those. But none were as important as this simple, Lenten, daddy-daughter day.

That’s what civilization exists for and is built on.

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