Ruthlessly Eliminate Hurry John Piper
“Sometimes these are the slowest lines,” the white haired customer ahead of me lamented. I agreed adding that this was my second slow express line of the day; I'd been at Walmart that morning and was certain the lady ahead of me could not count, clearly she was over the limit. “If this is your second express line today, you might be a slow learner. But,” he paused, “I'm guessing we both have enough time that we shouldn't be hurried.” My response included a chuckle, “Well, looking at the others in this line, I'm guessing that overall you and I have less time left in our lives, and I don't want to be wasting it in a slow line at Safeway.” With a twinkle in my eye I added, “I also don't buy green bananas anymore.”
When observing others, I think of aging as the autumn season of life, a kind of unhurried time. There are parts of this I love ... the slow down after a busy summer, the cooler weather, the invite to sit by a fire, the harvest time of apples, and the way autumn carries itself with an elegant mature beauty. While I want this season to feel unrushed and want ample time to be still and know that I am God, the harsh reality is that life continues in busy format, unless I do something about it. While in her early nineties my mother expressed that time still passed too quickly for her, even though she spent much of the day in her chair with few tasks on her to-do list. She spent her time remembering.
One of my favourite theologian poets John O Donohue said “In the autumn of your life, your experience is harvested ... Aging invites you to become aware of the sacred circle that shelters your life ... In fact if you come to see aging not as the demise of your body but as the harvest of your soul, you will learn that aging can be a time of great strength, poise and confidence." My sister-in-law believes people's character distills over time, both the best or worst have potential to grow stronger.
I've come through quite a long season of transition ... Feb 2020 will mark the fifteenth year that two of my children went to Heaven ... to say it has been a journey would be the biggest understatement of my life. In the last decade, I have lived on two different continents in five different places, undergone divorce, ended my nursing career, began writing, met many, good-byed many, remarried, blended two families. The highway of transition has been a rich, difficult and beautiful journey with much time spent both in the desert and by the nourishing river waters. Change is constant, but self-initiated change is always more welcome than change thrust upon us. And now I find myself in a new season ... and it takes adjustment as well ... you see we never arrive at a place without some baggage from the previous season. As obvious as it is, our today, is not exactly a brand new slate. We may enter the autumn phase having undergone a wet spring, a dry summer, a late frost, a freak hail storm. And seasons do not end precisely on their designated equinox days ... chinooks do happen.
When I ponder the question Jesus asked Bartimaeus: What do you want me to do for you (now)? I wonder what do I want? Reversal of time does not happen. Through the grief journey, I feel as though I “lost” some of my productive years ... and yet, while on the healing road, there was/is no point in hurrying. I knew I did not need to explain to God my hours spent in reflection and contemplation. While I lived my life solo, I had no one's task oriented life to measure mine against. Now that I have remarried, with a husband who works half time, I feel as if my productivity is once again measured by tasks done. This is more my perception than his. In her book Jesus Calling, Sarah Young tells us that spending time with God can be a difficult discipline because it goes against the activity addiction of this age. You may appear to be doing nothing, but actually you are participating in battles going on within spiritual realms. Last Sunday morning I passed a little girl on training wheels calling out ... Help Mommy, I'm stuck and can't move. At times I feel like I'm still spinning my training wheels, not going anywhere. It's not God's measurement I'm up against, it's my own, as perceived by others. Perhaps the man at Safeway was right, perhaps I am a slow learner.
With God's help, I want this to be a slow down time to take in the elegant beauty of fall and share from my harvest those who need its gleanings. This week my new granddaughter and I were picking leaves in awe of the rich reds. To take a line from a gardening show ... I've matured into foliage. And isn't that a beautiful thing!
The imagery in this post is so rich! It is both a blessing and a bit of a melancholy thing to grow old, isn't it?ReplyDelete
You are so right, the combination of joy and sadness ... the parallel tracks that most of our lives run on. Truthfully there is a beauty about each season.ReplyDelete
Lovely fall reflections, dear Jocelyn. Autumn also reminds me to slow down and notice the changes around me and inside of me. May we mature rich in grace and marvelous like the maples.ReplyDelete
Blessings ~ Wendy Mac
Thank-you Wendy, and yes may we mature into marvelous foliage, like the maples. Blessings to you as well :)ReplyDelete
Truth: "self-initiated change is always more welcome than change thrust upon us." That's for sure! Also, we so often say that today is a clean slate when the reality is that because of lived experiences "our today, is not exactly a brand new slate." I hadn't understood it that way before. So, thank you for sharing your thoughts!ReplyDelete
Thank-you for your comments, Yes, this (not so clean) new daily slate is more complicated with our lived experience. I love how faith, life and ideas become more interesting as they intersect.ReplyDelete
I love your double-barrelled title, Jocelyn. "Falling into Autumn/Out of the Express Line” is a great opener for your heartfelt blog--heartfelt by the writer and heart-felt by the reader. I’ve fallen past the middle of autumn and I definitely am “out of the express line,” although I can remember it well. I have read your blog with its rich language and rich thought several times, but struggle to respond without rambling.ReplyDelete
Like you, I strive to be still and know that God is God and that I am not. Therefore I must trust him more fully with the complexities of life. I agree with Sarah Young’s comment that spending time with God is a “difficult discipline because it goes against the activity addiction on this age,” as in time period but also in the sense that we’ve learned or been taught to be busy and productive all our lives. My 96-year-old aunt and I were talking recently about the way we almost felt guilty for taking time to read a book. Even now I keep mentally and physically busy, but I want to let the Lord lead me slowly and calmly beside the still waters.
Thanks for the way you include John Donahue’s thoughts on our experience "being harvested" in our elder years and our “becoming aware of the sacred circle that shelters (our lives).” Then I love your take-away conclusion, my friend: "With God's help, I want this to be a slow down time to take in the elegant beauty of fall and share from my harvest those who need its gleanings."
Thank you Sharon for your well crafted rambling appreciation of the autumn thoughts. Oh my, I too feel as though I should only read a book when everything else is done. What am I thinking?-but yes that productivity guilt runs deep. Sarah Youngs writings tell us we are engaging in work in the spiritual realms when we spend time with God. What could be more important? Thank you again for your delightful response!!ReplyDelete