Saturday, January 10, 2015
“Hurry ruins saints as well as artists.” ~ Thomas Merton
It’s an easy trap to fall into at the beginning of a new year. I've heard a few people talk about their “bucket lists”. There are things to be accomplished, projects to complete, dreams to be fulfilled. It all sounds very ambitious, productive, exciting…spiritual even. Does not the Great Creator want all of us to experience more, see more, grow more, live more abundantly? Shouldn't this be the year of volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, starting a bible study, getting my finances in order, forging relationships with new people? Shouldn't it be the year I get more organized with my time and money? Do more for others? Put some more more into life?
Again I am stirring an internal pot of choices and options. Always wanting to be more, do more, know more. But there’s merit to that old saying… “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” I am already sick in my soul from the two enemies that most plague me: hurry and fear. Always these have bit me with their slow-death kind of poison. The antidote to hurry is foreign to my nature – the twin syringe loaded with slowness and contentment.
Here I am addressing the hurry component. (Fear needs a 10-blog series of its own). And here, with forced deep breaths and attentiveness to one thing at a time, I believe there is the uncovering of what’s missing: the joy and gratitude of living in the present.
My dear friend told me a story this morning that is a metaphor for the ridiculousness of all of our rushing about. On a long awaited trip to Disney’s magic kingdom, my friend was savoring the sights and sounds: Cinderella’s magical castle, the smell of cinnamon rolls from a Main St. USA bakery, the old- fashioned music and the sparkling delight in the eyes of visitors. In the midst of all of this, her travelling companion spent the bulk of time on the magical Main St. talking and surfing on her phone, planning her next vacation in February. We can all gasp and murmur at the stupidity of it all, except that each of our days offers us beauty and wonders that we continually forfeit in the quest for the next “fulfilling experience”. We are in a kingdom of boundless grace every minute of our lives, and we miss it while we multitask our way to productivity and accomplishment.
Dreams, goals and even bucket lists are important in planning and moving forward. After all, it is also true that “Without a vision, the people perish” ~Proverbs 29:18. What I’m wrapping my dissipated head around though is this: if the goal (destination) becomes all, what of the journey? Full as it is of the taste of cranberry bread that gets swallowed whole on route, or the sound of a cat purring on a warm radiator while the 6 o’clock news drowns it out. Is it possible there is some irony in planning a “ministry night” to reach out to folks feeling empty and dry, when there’s no time for slowly sipped coffee with God Himself in the morning? Since when did the sum of life matter more that the quality of its parts?
I write these words from the place of far too much understanding.
Hurry ruins saints, as well as artists.
For today, I have decided to shut up and slow down. When my children speak, I want to hear their every word…without a need to conjecture or advise. I want to look into those 3 sets (in age order) of brown, green and blue eyes, and savor these moments with them, moments of pain as well as pleasure, these God redeemed moments of the only earthly life I get. I want to move slowly in the kitchen, cutting up the slightly wilted zucchini into my week’s-worth of vegetable soup, to smell the onions cooking, to enjoy the feel of the wood spoon against the pot.
I choose to live in this very moment. That is the one item on this year’s bucket list.
No matter what your plans and goals are, you dear precious people, don’t be the fool I have so often been. While you travel to your dream, feel the cold, prickly wind on your face, cry the big tears of grief, laugh hard and long, and give thanks to Him who is always living in the present.
We fret not, for God is the Artist who, in perfect time, turns ruin into resurrection.
Your friend on the pilgrim road,