As November rolls in with the speed of a freight train I am already feeling overwhelmed. My mind and heart are in conflict. I want to be everywhere, for every one, while simultaneously hiding away like the true hermit I am
I want to feel the joy of gratitude, the holiness of coming to the table for a meal. I want to have time for what the Greeks called “eucharisteo” – to actively express thankfulness. Isn’t that the point of Thanksgiving? A moment in time, designed to remind us to stop, to collectively take note in the chaos and come to the table. It’s almost like communion for all of America when we choose to point that thankfulness to heaven. It reminds us to breathe and give thanks, to linger in a spirit of gratitude.
A couple months ago I decided to throw out an initiation to some of my favorite women. I dubbed it a lazy girls night in. I threw some food in the crock-pot. People could come and go as they pleased. They could bring something to share, or not. It was merely a place to gather. Though I would have been content had no one been able to make it (introvert alert), I was so happy when people actually showed up.
We ate. We laughed. We visited. Some people left and some people lingered.
Of all the beautiful things my friend Samantha has taught me, perhaps lingering is one of the best. I am not a natural lingerer. I long for it, but my uptight, highly sensing self is always preoccupied. I think, “Am I overstaying my welcome? Should I leave now? I don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want to be “that friend” that doesn’t know when to take a hint and head home.” But, when I watch Samantha, she never over stays her welcome, she never is a burden, but she lingers like a boss. She lingers well because she values quality time. She listens to people. She makes time for people.
Maybe, I am starting to finally get it that the best stuff happens in the lingering. It is when the walls break down a little bit or the unrestrained laughter bursts forth. Perhaps, it’s because everyone is tired or because being in a room with only a handful of people breed’s safety. If you’ve stuck around to linger, it’s probably because of a genuine affection for the people left in the building.
That night at my house some cried, some listened, words of empathy came forward. Grace and encouragement flowed freely. No pat answers were given or problems solved, but in the lingering sisterhood forms. That night it was in my living room, but I’ve experienced the power of the linger in a parked car on a Monday night, around a bonfire, and after a MOPS night out. Every moment spent with someone is “money in the bank”* of your friendship, but the lingering seems to bring a more substantial deposit to the relationship.
As things get crazy and I feel that tug to be everywhere all the time, I am trying to hit pause this season. I’m trying to linger at the table with my God and with the people that I love the most. For some, those loved ones may be family, but for others who live further from relatives, it may be the friends that have become family. I want to make sure I am leaving margin in my life for the after party, because everyone truly knows that the after party is where it’s at. So, if you want to linger, come and linger with me. I have a special place in my heart for the lingerers.
*It was Shauna Niequist, at MomCon 2014, who taught me about “money in the bank”.
Jesica Swanson is wife to Norse and mother to Boden & Isley. She’s a big fan of marriage, wholehearted friendships, and loud laughter. While still trying to figure out her marketable skill set, she spends her time goofing off in Montana and writing candidly about spiritual life, marriage, motherhood, fun books and music, and whatever else pops into her head at http://www.atleastwecanlaugh.com .