Do stay for tea and coffee: ‘I used to think I didn’t have time for a daily walk’
Paul Kerensa finds he has time to walk the dog
I’ve never been one for resolutions – they’re too breakable. Now Lent’s here, with yet more chances for me to over-self-promise and under-self-deliver. (At least my resolution to invent double-hyphenated words is succeeding.)
Whether it’s lack of willpower or of staying power, I’m resistant to regular exercise, total abstinence, and I can’t give up smoking as I don’t smoke. I’m not great with new commitments to Bible reading time; my Bible-in-a-year (ooh, triple-hyphenated) only lasted two months. Then again it was 2020, and reading Leviticus 14:38 (‘The priest shall go out of the doorway of the house and close it up for seven days’) on the first day of lockdown made me find my own Bible verses for comfort after that.
Changes of routine in my life need to demonstrate clear benefits if I’m going to stick with them. So with this in mind, we recently shifted domestic responsibilities for who walks the dog. It was time for a change. My wife had had enough of the pooch running off, and I’d had enough of hot coffee and bacon rolls, apparently. Besides, I’m mid-forties and as a non-keep-fit type (back to double hyphens again), I need to move more.
So most mornings, you’ll now find me dragged around by our cockapoo. But what began as a chore (I’m tired! It’s cold! I miss bacon rolls!) is showing its benefits. An hour in nature each morning is a good thing, if I choose to see it as a daily appreciation of God’s creation. I’m attempting creative writing most days – what better way to start than enjoying the Creator’s creativity?
Alright, coffee and a second breakfast sometimes feels a better way. But I’ve gained a new perspective on time.
I know, it sounds very artsy. Give Kerensa a dog lead and suddenly he thinks he’s Dylan Thomas, roaming the hills with thoughts about life, the universe and the proximity of dog poo bins.
I used to think I didn’t have time for a daily walk. We creative freelancers can be like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, always late for an important date with the muse, only to find we’ve been stood up, with the muse rocking up mid-to-late afternoon (double-hyphens again, there are more of them than you think). Instead, I now make time for that regular canine meander.
Well, I say that, but in truth the time’s not mine to make. I have the same amount of time as ever. Time is a gift from God, and we’re all given the same amount each day. It’s up to us then what to do with it.
The knock-on effect into the rest of my life is becoming transformative too. I used to think I was constantly busy – with about six jobs, two kids, and only 24 hours each day, despite my prayerful petitioning for a few more hours here and there. But do I need to be in such a panic about it?
The things that need to get done still get done. But if time’s a currency, I’m thinking of it more as a windfall payment from God, and he’s given it tax-free. I can find time, spend time, give time to others – because that time was never mine to begin with. It’s God’s time, and he has given me a life’s worth of it.
So I make time each morning to walk, to appreciate my locale, to get that small bit of exercise, and to wonder what God wants me to do with the 1,440 minutes he’s lent me today.
‘Lent’ indeed – I’ve got forty days of it, praise be. I wonder, Lord: what do you want me to do with it?
Paul Kerensa is a comedian, writer and broadcaster. His books include So A Comedian Walks Into Church: Confessions of a kneel-down stand-up, published by Darton Longman and Todd. paulkerensa.com
This article was published in the March 2023 edition of Reform