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St Johns Southgate

06 Oct 2016

Of dandelions, deadlines and daughters

Last week I managed to find the time to take my two kids to the park for a kick of the footy and a run around.

It was a beautiful day. The late afternoon magic-hour sun was bringing the greenest greens out of the grass and we were traffic-light-go ready for fun!

After kick-to-kick, chasey and a swing on the swing, Eliza, our six-year-old, suggested we run all the way to the end of the park. So, off we went. Eliza shot ahead, while Theodore, our two-year-old and I followed at little-leg pace.

A stone’s throw into the journey, Theodore stopped in his tracks. Popping its head out above the manicured grass was an object of much wonder and wizardry. “Eliza, a dandelion!” Theodore cried out, hoping his sister would come back and share with him in a thrill born of breath and botany. But Eliza had a race to win, a greener pasture to master.

“Wait!” he called, but big sis wasn’t even in earshot, she was already finish-line-victory-dancing. So, Theodore, saddened by the absence of his compact comrade, but being too impatient to await her return, huffed and puffed the dandelion heavenward, enjoying only a fraction of the satisfaction a shared act of sorcery should have smelted.

All of us, it seems, regardless of age, have priorities to determine, deeds to do and deadlines to meet. We live in the über-calendared 21st century and, as such, the must-do-right-nows tend to block out the could do, should do, or would dos.   

When was the last time you stopped to smell the roses or feed the ducks? When was the last time you ran, not for the calorie-burn, but for the fun of it? When was the last time you simply sat with someone, in a moment that wasn’t pre-planned or that fitted into the I’ve-got-a-spare-minute-so-now’s-good bracket? When was the last time you dropped the multi, dispensed with the tasking, and just were?

I certainly can’t talk. I’m writing this in a birthing suite at the Royal Women’s Hospital as I cradle my three-hour-old daughter, Genevieve in one arm and grip a biro in the extremities of the other. My beautiful wife and I are sharing in something sublime, but even in this moment, as she shuts her eyes restfully, I know a deadline’s a deadline despite the new-life-line that tugs at my heartstrings.

Finding balance in life may be a first world problem with no apparent solution, but I take comfort in knowing that even Jesus of Nazareth never quite found it. There were occasions, like the wedding feast in Cana where Jesus appeared to be off the clock, but upon request, he got to work anyway and blessed the people.

It’s now barely a day after the birth of our gentle Genevieve and here I am putting the finishing touches on this article just hours before it’s due and minutes after rocking Genevieve to sleep and feeding the other kids.

Am I soaking up the magic-hour rays and the greenest greens of life? Who knows? Who really does? But we try our best, and if we tackle the difficult time management decisions of life like Jesus – with a spirit of self-giving love for all people – we can’t be going too wrong. At least that’s what I tell myself so I can sleep at night.

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