A couple years ago, I spent a month in a cabin on Bainbridge Island. I was working on a book and I wanted to get away from the city and the temptations that keep me from writing.
If you’d have asked me when I left Portland for the island whether I was stressed, I’d have told you I wasn’t. But the island revealed my stress level was at an all-time high. I only knew that when I began to calm down. There’s something soothing about the ocean and the forest. It’s as though God reminds us through creation all things live, all things die, and He is in control.
Back home I felt a certain urgency.
I felt that if I didn’t get things done the world would fall apart. I didn’t feel that urgency on the island, and yet I wrote more on the island than I had in the previous six months.
So, is being frantic really the best way to be productive? It rarely works for me. In fact, the more I calm down the more I get done.
I wasn’t sure how to take this lesson home. I would be leaving the island and returning to a pile of bills and meetings and obligations. My guess was everything would feel like impending doom.
But I didn’t want to give in to it.
I wanted to take the forest and the ocean with me. I still feel this anytime I return from a retreat.
So if you ever sit next to me on a plane and hear me mumbling to myself all things live, all things die, and God is in control, just let me have my moment. Or perhaps you can mumble with me. After that, I’ll tell you about the owls that live out back behind the cabin. They fly over sometimes and land in the giant tree out front. If you stop what you’re doing for an hour to shine flashlights into the branches to spot them, you’ll find you’ll get more writing done later that night.
You may find, like me, you get more done when your soul is fed first.