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Posted: November 19, 2004

Spiritual Caregiving

Two Takes on Taking Our Time

(Editor's Note: A caregiver's life is always hurried -- ALWAYS. There seems to be little or no time to slow down and see what a less hurried life can mean in terms of self-satisfaction and reduced stress, not only for the caregiver but those around them. These selections echo and underscore this elusive benefit.)


No Hurries: Effortless Acts of a Spiritual Life

Not long ago, as my train pulled into Washington D.C.'s Union Station, I noticed an elderly couple across the aisle from me with a lot of luggage. The man struggled to get their bags down from the overhead rack while his wife eyed me nervously. I could have pushed by this couple to get to my destination perhaps two minutes earlier. Instead, I used a phrase that has since become a spiritual practice. I said, "I'm in no hurry," and her face immediately relaxed into a relieved smile.

Saying "I'm in no hurry" is an effortless way to practice kindness. That simple phrase allows me to show consideration to others, whether the couple on the train, bank tellers, or even people who jump ahead in line. It's also an act of humility indicating that I do not consider myself more important than others. Practices such as kindness are markers of a spiritual life. Here are some others:

Freebies (Grace): Get in the habit of noticing when a gift of God comes to you. It might be a moment when you receive a reward you don't feel you deserve. Perhaps you have acted badly toward others and they accept you anyway. When one of these surprising gifts happens, say aloud, "That's a freebie."

Just Like Me (Unity): Whenever you find yourself making an assessment of another person ? whether it's critical or complimentary ? add the statement "Just like me." For example, "My partner is so stubborn ... just like me. My friend is so generous with her time ... just like me. She holds too many grudges ... just like me. He is so creative... just like me."

Teacher Encounters: As you go about your daily routines, notice when you encounter a potential teacher. Ask a challenge, a flower, a friend, or a passage from a book, "What can I learn from you?"

Incorporate Silence: Observe one silent minute at your desk before you begin work, while sitting on a park bench during lunch, in your car before driving home, or after watching the evening news.

-- Mary Ann Brussat

Media and Web Editor,


Time Is Love

"Time is money," we often say ? but what if there were no money? Couldn't we come up with other equations that make as much sense? How about "Time is love," for example? When it comes to relationships, that equation makes sense. One of the best things we can spend on our loved ones is time.

The Micmac Indians of Maine and the Maritimes of Canada have no word for either time or money in their vocabulary, they just "do what needs to be done until it's finished" (Dan dell lippi djadun). And they take all the "time" they need to do it right. During the Great Depression, my Micmac grandfather had no money to speak of (in any language), but he had lots of love, and he loved to fish. Not the type to buy cards or big gifts, he'd show my mother his love for her by spending the time to take her fishing. Even though a good catch would put food on the table, it was more important to show her how to be in harmony with nature.

He never said, "Micmacs are patient. We don't rush things, we take one step at a time." Instead, he'd take her to Eel Brook first, not the fishing spot she was eager to go to, and catch minnows until they had the right amount of bait, no matter how long it took. Instead of saying, "There's no word for time in Micmac," he'd take her to a certain place on the Saco River at exactly the time of day the stripers ran best, when the sun was "right over there." Instead of telling her that Micmacs love nature, he'd take her trout fishing in the most beautiful place she'd ever been, where wild grapes hung plump and juicy, waiting to be eaten, and the sun shone warmly on the singing stream. He knew her Micmac heart would rejoice in nature for the rest of her life.

Love takes time to create, just as money does. Just as every moment holds financial potential, each moment also holds the potential for love and beauty. If you love music, take the time to learn an instrument, write a song, or just listen to others play. If you love your family, take time to think of things to do together, and then do them! See? Time IS love!

-- Evan Pritchard

Author, No Word for Time: The Way of the Algonquin People

just republished in a revised, expanded edition from Council Oak Books

This article originally appeared in Spirituality & Health magazine, For subscriptions call 1-800-876-8202 or see Editor Stephen Kiesling and his staff contribute weekly columns, features and articles published every Friday as "Spiritual Caregiving" at Contact staff directly via email at

© 2004 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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