“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” – Saint Frances de Sales
For many of us, our life of going has been drastically slowed, if not stopped. But, it is probably hard to feel like things have slowed down. We wake up, turn on the news or open social media and we are immediately bombarded with the craziness of the times. We are reminded of a harsh reality that can get our anxieties up before our feet even hit the floor. We start the comparison game as soon as our eyes are open, with the way we live our life, the things we have, the vacations that are or are not being taken. We are stressed out before our first sip of coffee. We can feel inadequate. We may start feeling alone, even though we are surrounded by people.
When I had four young boys there was rarely any slowing down, no matter how much I pleaded. My life was a race to the next thing. I went to bed exhausted and woke up exhausted. Life was always on the move. Then we were blessed with a girl. This girl doesn’t do anything quickly. For a while, that drove me crazy (and if I am honest, it still sometimes does). One day I sat just watching her. I watched how she would stop and smell the flowers. She could be standing at a bush full of flowers that seemingly are the same. She would gently hold the flower in her hand and study it. Then she would close her eyes and slowly inhale the fragrance of each flower as if they each had their own distinct smell.
“Flowers do not force their way with great strife. Flowers open to perfection slowly in the sun…don’t be in a hurry about spiritual matters. Go step by step and be very sure.” – White Eagle
That day was the day I realized she was given to me to remind me to slow down. She pays attention to the details. She could tell me the difference between two flowers that look identical in my quick passing glance, but really are distinctly their own. Her stories can be long because they are full of details that most might miss or think are not important.
Slowing has been my theme the last couple of years, some out of necessity and some out of just being tired. Tired of always going. Tired of time racing by. Tired of waking up and feeling like my kids grew magnitudes overnight and wondering how I missed it.
Even when we are not busy in the hustle and bustle of schedules full of going to school, work, extra-curriculars, church, etc. we still have the constant feed of technology in front of us. In times like we are in now, that technology has given us the tools to be able to meet together for church and school from the comfort of our pajamas while sitting on our couch. We have also been able to remain somewhat social. As great as that is, we have to also learn to take breaks from it.
“Today, a number of historical circumstances are blindly flowing together and accidentally conspiring to produce a climate within which it is difficult not just to think about God or pray, but simply to have any interior depth whatsoever…
We, for every kind of reason, good and bad, are distracting ourselves into spiritual oblivion.
It is not that we have anything against God, depth, and spirit, we would like these, it is just that we are habitually too preoccupied to have any of these show up on our radar screens. We are more busy than bad, more distracted than nonspiritual, and more interested in the movie theater, the sports stadium, and the shopping mall and the fantasy life they produce in us than we are in church. Pathological busyness, distraction, and restlessness are major blocks today within our spiritual lives.” – Ronald Rolheiser
Throughout the Bible we read about Jesus going off on his own for solitude. After having been in the wilderness for 40 days, fasting and alone, he came back for a single day and then went off in solitude again. Over and over we read about Him going off for time with His Father. We tend to see solitude as a bad thing. But, He came out of His times of solitude centered and grounded. His time alone with God gave Him the ability to know what to say yes to and what to say no to. He came out rested and ready to tackle His next miracle. Solitude is where He found strength.
He had late nights and His schedule was probably a bit busier than ours is. He was still intentional about getting up early, or even staying up all night if He had to, so that He could get in his time with His Father before the craziness of His day began.
Shouldn’t we be able to fit Him in somewhere in our day? Just a few minutes of silence. A few minutes in His Word. A few minutes of prayer and thanksgiving and handing over our fears and our frustrations. And then really letting Him KEEP those fears and frustrations all day. Imagine how much better our days would go. How much better the working/going to school with a house full of distractions would be. How much more we could enjoy our time with our family.
We still have a lot on our plates, it just looks different these days. But, for many, we have been handed the perfect opportunity to remember what it is like to not have to rush to be at the next place. It is the perfect time to be reminded what family time looks like. It is a time to get creative with how we can reach others, even while staying at least six feet away. It is time for us to all trust our faith and remember in the midst of all of it, He still knows and He is still in control.
“For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.” – John Ortberg
You will always remember the days of the pandemic, and so will most of our kids. How do you want your story to go? How do you want your kids to look back on the time you were forced to stay home together? Do you want it to be a time of peace in the midst of the storm or of fear, anxiety and frustration? Do you want our kids to remember us staring at our phones/computers or taking advantage of the time and doing things together?
These are the things we wish for when we are in the midst of the hustle and bustle of normal life. Take advantage of it. Enjoy your time with your Father. Enjoy your time together. Go smell the flowers.