Dec 26, 2001

When Going the Distance Means Staying

An hour-and-a-half drive to Dallas/Fort Worth airport. Another ninety minutes to park, reach the terminal, clear security. Those early Monday West Coast meetings were now requiring Sunday evening travel. By 3:00 p.m. on countless Sunday afternoons, his suit was in the hanging bag, e-ticket confirmation number in his palm pilot, and his thoughts already on the next day’s meetings.

More and more, Sundays were less and less about family. But travel was part of his job. And this Saturday evening he faced another abbreviated Sunday afternoon.

“Mommy? Mommy? I’m ready for night-night," his daughter said from behind her well-worn blankie; in her footed sleepers, she padded through the kitchen and family room past her dad.

“Mommy is upstairs, Baby. Don’t you want Daddy to tuck you in tonight?” he asked, seeing only the tousled hair and big blue eyes. “No, I want Mommy. Daddies don’t do night-night.”

Since when? I’ve been gone too many evenings. Missed too many bedtimes.

“Here baby,” he said, gently picking up his little girl. “I’ll do the first part of night-night and Mommy will come in and do the rest.”

I’ve been gone too many evenings. Missed too many bedtimes.

As he carried his daughter to her room, he nuzzled her soft hair; he smelled traces of shampoo and the subtle earthiness of a little person who only moments earlier had run room to room in hard play. And she stayed in perpetual motion—until night-night.

For a moment he held her close, inhaled slowly. That smell. That little-girl smell . . .

I’ve been gone too many evenings. Missed too many bedtimes. But something’s going to change.

Next morning, they went to church, came home, had lunch. He packed his bags, checked email and voice mail for any last minutes changes and soon was on his way to DFW airport. But this time was different. This time the hour-and-a-half drive gave him time to think, to work through all the “what ifs.”

The trip went well. He was home in 24 hours. Within 48 hours, calls were made, meetings rescheduled, his resolve in place.

He was home for night-night this time, and in the quiet of the late evening, he told his wife about his decision: “No more Sunday travel. Whatever I have to do, I’ll do it without traveling on Sunday. I won’t make a big deal about it at the office; I’m just going to be fully here on Sundays. No meeting preparation. No email. No voice mail. No work or checking my palm pilot. Sundays are family days.”

“Hmmmm. Maybe that’s what keeping the Sabbath is about,” his wife said softly.

Questions for discussion:

  • A child’s life has only so many bedtimes. A year has only so many Sabbaths. Are you making them?
  • Any simple changes you can make now, today, this week, to “keep the Sabbath”?

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