What is this life, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like stars at night.
No time to turn at Beauty; glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care
We have no time to stand and stare.
W. H. Davies
There is straw beneath and around me as I sit and read out loud to a laboring doe (mama goat). Blanchette is unbothered by the computer in her midst. She is merely happy for the comfort I bring to her in her labors. A neighbor is mowing and the boisterous two year old is sleeping. There is a list inside of all that needs to get done by nightfall. But I’m here. Reading to a goat. Reading to myself. She nibbles on my wedding ring and makes softest sounds that she will only make for the babies that are about to be delivered. Mama Hen stands nearby and since she’s special to me, I don’t shoo her away. She is our hen who likes to lay an entire clutch of beautiful blue eggs “off the reservation” ie: not in the coop. She too clucks in a most maternal way and somehow I feel most at home in the world, right here.
Blanchette paws at the nest she’s made and I rub her back and keep reading to her. But when I get to the poem quoted above, my eyes brim and spill. The book is about family and what a home is. Something I’ve learned much of just from experience and life. But something I know I’ve still room to grow into and grasp stronger. A barred owl just called from a tree nearby, he must live directly behind the goat pasture. And he always calls mid afternoon. Every day. His one-of-a-kind voice is ominous and strangely comforting to me. I never see him. But his presence is as real to me as anything. I breath deep and loud and keep my feet propped up on the milk stool for just another minute.
If I don’t have time to stop and stare and engage fully in this one and only life of mine, then is it really life at all?
I am such a slow learner. But I’m figuring out that my ability to multi-task like most moms isn’t always a gift. It can fragment a day and a life right up into pieces until what’s left is devoid of the richness intended.
Maybe multi-tasking isn’t all it was cracked up to be. Maybe we weren’t meant to have it all. Maybe we can only have and do just a few things with excellence and we get to choose. A yes here means a no somewhere else.
One of my kids came to me this week with emotions and words that were incredibly tough to swallow. Vulnerable and real. I had just communicated I didn’t have time to look at cute puppy pictures online. I needed to send a quick note back to someone about something. But in that moment that seemed small and totally insignificant to me, there was brokenness. “Mom, sometimes it seems like you just don’t have time for me.” There were tears. I listened. I received all the emotion and words to follow. And took some serious inventory. What needed to change?
Hence the poem above and how poignant I find it at present. Time to stand and stare. Time to shirk the rest of life and sit in the goat pen. Time to go for a walk. Time to listen for owls. Time to look at puppy pictures online. Time to listen to ridiculous quotes from a movie I find annoying but my boys love. Time to stop and kiss my husband in the kitchen. Time to sit by the fire instead of do dishes. Time to let go.
Yes, life may be brimming ‘full of care’. But there is still time to turn and glance at Beauty.
**more soon – a minute or two more and the first baby goat of our kidding season will be here…pics soon to follow!!!**
**updated: 5:30 pm**