A few months ago I wrote about the importance of sitting a spell. And taking time to notice. Being attentive. I suggested a slower pace could do some good. Why? We rush through life. Most of us. Partly because of the demands of modernity. The Fast-Life. And sometimes the unwholesome demands others place upon us. That we place upon ourselves. Maybe we are just running toward a desired future. Or from a disappointing past. Speed seems necessary.
Often the quickness is exhilarating. I’ve been there. Bada boom. Bada bing. Knock it out. Get it done. Get respect. Other times? Honestly. Simply overwhelming. Too much to process effectively. Hurry up and hold on! is about the best we can do.
Overwhelming speed blurs awareness of our surroundings. Important signs go rushing by. The guide posts along the way. Pivot points, even. “Was I suppose to turn there? Or turn around here?”
Stop and smell the peppermint mountain laurel, goes the old cliche. Can you even see the laurel at this speed?
You don’t see a blurry object. You don’t draw near. Meditate on its beauty. Watch it unfold. Take it in.
Our minds, said the poet, were meant to be the mothers of immortal song. Inspired by the fine delight, the strong spur, the flaming breath. We were meant to experience, take in, God’s beauty, wisdom and love. And let it gestate. Nine days. Nine months. Nine years. We yearn for the encounter, actually. Even those who don’t yet know the true source of that yearning.
“Sweet fire the sire of muse, my soul needs this;
I want the one rapture of an inspiration.”
And yet, it won’t be fully Christian (my neck of the woods) unless we share this inspiration, in loving community, just like my Three-and-One God. Unless we in-spire. In-spirit. In-dwell one another. By creatively breathing out after we have breathed in. It won’t be Christlike. This creative breath takes the form of the timely word, the healing touch, the helpful deed. But all too often our impressive salt-flat speediness, which may have broken records, leaves our mission dry and lifeless.
Question? Was anyone or any vital thing sacrificed at the altar of our record breaking achievement? If not. Then, by all means, let us carry on. If yes. Stop. Look. Seek forgiveness. And possibly pivot.
Perhaps some of you are saying: “Look, friend, all your encouragement about slowing down, opening to beauty, sucking the marrow out of life, may work on the Appalachian trail, or waltzing around Walden Pond, while retired! but it’s not where I live or can live.”
Some of you may be thinking that, right? Well. It is true. I recently arrived at my “Walden Pond” and the waltzing is wonderfully in-spiriting. I’m very grateful for this slower pace. And the natural beauty. But I need to emphasize the word “recently.”
Until most recently, there were seven years of physical pressures. Psychological pressures. And by grace, character forming pressures. Over 140 chemo-immuno-therapy treatments and doctors visits for and with my wife. Three major surgeries, for and with my sweetie.
Psychological pain. Hers: “But, I don’t fit the profile. I’ve taken care of myself. My girls! My husband! My granddaughter!” His: “But, I finally found my girl! My love! My wife!”
My doubts. Not about the distant future. But about the interim. Did I pray hard enough. Did I do enough to help my wife prepare? Did I say everything she needed to hear from her husband. Did I touch her, kiss her enough? Did I hear her when she cried? As her “drug delivery system” in her final days was it precisely what she needed? Oh God help me!
Responsibilities. Given Susan’s two daughters from a previous marriage, the disposition of the Estate was not simple. And finally selling our home. And moving.
In the middle of all that, God graciously met us & led us.
I apologize if this seems like a self serving troll for sympathy. But I’m trying to make a larger point. We don’t need Walden Pond. God will meet us where we are. If we are desperate enough. If we yearn for it. But we must make God’s good gift of time serve us, and our deepest needs.
In three upcoming posts I want to share with you three signs, three tender mercies that give witness to God’s direct presence in my life. A life rather busy until recently. Sound like presumptuous, hotline to heaven talk? I hope not. I don’t have one of those. What I do have is a valuable experience. Because my wife and I took the time. And God, our Sweet Fire, led, refined, inspired along the way.
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