C.S. Lewis said; “Isn’t life interesting. One day everything looks the same and then, after some time passes, all things look differently.”
Yesterday, just after noon, I heard a door slam outside of our front door. I went outside and there was a large truck with a crane in the driveway turning around and reversing toward the backyard. I had no idea what was going on so I asked, more rudely then I intended, “Can I help you?” I shouted to the man over the noise of the truck who was directing the driver. “We’re here to pick up your propane tank!” he shouted back. Then it all made sense. Over a year ago we turned off the propane and called the propane company to come and pick up the tank. At long last, they were here and after only a few minutes they were gone with the tank on a flatbed truck.
It was dark when I got home last night so I didn’t ask Beth if she noticed any difference in the yard. This morning, however, as I walked her outside for work I popped the question. “I don’t see anything,‘ she said looking around. “Look harder.” I encouraged her. Wham! She saw it or rather didn’t see it. “They came and got the tank!” Eyes opened and a big smile.
Plato says; “We should not judge anyone’s progress no matter how slowly.”
It’s important for those of us who are slow to change, find it difficult to see the difference, to discover we are making progress. Wisdom teaches us not to be in a rush. Trust the way and it will lead us home.
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This morning, following the children’s time in the church service, the pastor gave out Tootsie Roll Pops to all the kids. While he was passing them out he said; “The only rule about these is you cannot run while they are in your mouth!” Made sense. Anyone with a chunk of candy attached to a paper stick could choke themselves if they tripped and fell lodging the sucker in their throat. The kids did what I would have done; pulled off the wrapping and put the candy in their mouths. They walked back to their seats careful to heed the pastor’s words of warning.
I reflected on the warning of the pastor, running with a tasty treat but also a choking hazard. There are times when we have a good word or tasty gossip on the tip of our tongue. We want to run and tell someone the good news or the tantalizing tidbit. Instead of first being mindful and still, being thoughtful and thankful for the blessing, or hearing a salacious piece of fact or fiction from someone we rush to the next waiting ear to spill all the details. We forget or don’t care that careless words hurt people.
Words are life-giving and soul-crushing. We must be careful how we use them.
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The quote in the picture (attached) is a great lesson, one I learned again today.
Following a meeting, I was rushing to another appointment but had to stop and speak with someone. I was present bodily with the person but wasn’t present emotionally or mentally. I could feel the hurry welling up inside and my attention was elsewhere. As a result, the conversation I had wasn’t fruitful and I am sure I came across as flustered. I’ve since let the person know it was my mistake, apologized and confessed I should’ve been more mindful, present, in the moment, not on my way somewhere else.
It’s so easy to be moving on to the next thing. We love marking items off our lists. It makes us feel productive and successful when truthfully if we aren’t careful, we find ourselves failing at one of the most important reason for existence; relationships.
The difference between misery and happiness is attention. An important lesson not just to read but to practice.
The Chase –
This morning, on my way to work, I rounded a curve and was met with two dogs. I could tell by the look of the younger one a chase was about to go down. The other, who looked much older, wasn’t so sure. As I passed the younger it took off running as fast as it could trying to match my speed. I’m not sure he’d know what to do if he caught me but he was giving it his best effort. The elder ran for a while and then gave up. He knew he wasn’t fast enough to catch his prize. I smiled at the younger dog and his stamina. He kept up for a long time and even after I turned a corner and accelerated he was still giving it a go. I never saw the older dog again.
It reminded me of life. When we’re young we chase after shiny things, fast things. Our attention is easily captured by whatever’s on the horizon. We put a lot of effort into obtaining things which never satisfy or give us the rush of the chase. As we get older we realize there’s only so much passion, energy and time to give to pursuing and, hopefully, we understand there are precious few things worth chasing after.
Wisdom teaches us to filter and to focus on that which satisfies and to leave the chasing of fast, shiny things to others.
Not so Fast –
Liturgy is one of my favorite parts of worship. I like the rhythm, the movement, the flow of a service. Contemporary worship, for me, is lacking this undertone of structure and meaning. Yesterday, I wrote about a gentleman in a “Declaration of Independence” shirt (https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/07/03/what-are-we/), but it wasn’t the only thing trying to disrupt the rhythm of the service.
When scriptures, creeds, prayers and responsories are being read/said, I like to utter them slowly. I want to soak in the words, hear them in my heart, let them resonate with my spirit. However, behind me in service yesterday, was a woman who spoke loudly and quickly. She was often ahead of the priest as he was leading the congregants. It was almost as if she was in a race to see who would finish reading first. Because of her hurry and volume I found myself distracted and was having difficulty allowing the words to make their way past the surface. With frustration rising, I took a deep breath and did my best to let her pace not dictate my own. I focused on my breath, the words on the screen and allowed the voice of rushing, haste and swiftness to fade. It wasn’t gone but also wasn’t imposing its pace upon me.
On my was home I reflected upon the woman’s rapidity and how easily it is to allow the speed of others to set the tempo for our lives. It’s a difficult discipline to learn; to live slowly, purposefully at a speed where we revel in and soak up each moment. Every breath and experience can be worship if we’re willing to resist the rush, find the rhythm which leads to harmony, balance and peace.
“The wise person can find the whole universe in a single drop of rain.” #wisdom #proverb
I’m in a hurry! Even as I write this post I am getting ready to leave to teach a class. My brain is split between writing and the lesson soon to be delivered. Most of the afternoon has been non-stop.
I don’t like feeling pressured. I can’t stand the sense of being late, missing things because I’m trying to do too many things at once. There is a sense that my timing is off. My body, mind and spirit seems as if they’re trying to catch up to a clock that refuses to stand still, even for a moment.
Why do some days move so fast while others meander? I wish I could grab one of those hours which seemed to have lasted forever and put it between me and my next appointment. Just plop it down and say; “Enough!” and go find a hammock and take 60 beautiful minutes to do nothing. Sigh. Unfortunately life doesn’t work this way.
Wisdom teaches me to carry the stillness within. To remember that some days may feel shorter, like they’re moving at the speed of light, but the same amount of seconds, minutes and hours occupy each day. Perhaps it’s not time which needs to be adjusted, but me, the one who’s being swept away.