Margin Monday and Mustard Seeds by Kathleen McAnear Smith


Matthew 13: 31-32 The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants. It grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.

I used to love those little moments right before an appointment or a meeting, even time spent in a queue. “Margins” the coaches of life and business used to tell us. “Build margins into your day,” they said and I did.

Margins built into my daily routine were the breathing space moments, the catch up on an email or message a friend moments. I counted on this time in my day. In these brief minutes, even waiting at a bus stop became priceless times of silent prayer or reading a devotional. 

Have you noticed their disappearance? Text messages come from the dentist or doctor saying “please do not arrive at your appointment more than five minutes early. This is a Covid measure for the safety of our clients/customers/whatever we are these days.” 

This has certainly put a spanner in the works of my revived after lockdown planner. My need for a unplanned time, catch up on myself, breathe time hasn’t changed. If anything I need margins more and more for my mental well-being in this in-out, on-off Covid aware life. 

My need for margins hasn’t changed, but how I’m going to get this need met certainty has. So I return to another concept of weekly planning that has long been a feature of religious communities as well as planning specialists: the rhythm of the week. This rhythm selects a focal point for each day. It doesn’t meant it’s what you do all day or that you can’t change it, but it is your intended focus for the day. For example, my focus for Saturdays is Sabbath Prep. It means I do whatever I need to do so that I can get out of the house and go to church on Sunday. While  Sunday for me is a day of worship and gathering and some rest, I’m serious that housework or work of any kind is scheduled as “don’t even think about it!” I have a Sunday focus and believe me it’s not the laundry.

I keep hearing people say everything has changed since lockdown, but it’s just not true. We just look at new ways to enable what never changes.  I now change my weekly rhythm to enable my changeless need for margins in the to-do lists of life. To this end I have personally declared Monday as Margin Day. No appointments, no Zoom meetings. Nothing. I take this time to look at the week ahead, and I check my planner for meetings in the week ahead. I may catch up on a blogpost. enjoy some writing time, check when I  my sister in the States time, check train timetables to organise grandma time,  read a little and for some reason I’m finally getting around to a little  menu planning. Whatever next. Who knows? It’s an unplanned day for me to catch up with me. 

It’s a small thing, margins; but I believe it just might be like the proverbial mustard seed. Who knows what tree might grow, or land in the branches? Growing faith? Perhaps it will be a Mary day in a Martha week.

Post a Comment