"Be still and know that I am God" The Psalms
One of the songs that I have played innumerable times on my guitar and led faithful people in its singing is the song, "Lord I lift Your name on high." Right this very moment, I'm winging my way to a conference in Houston, Texas. I can peak out the window of the 737 (on which seat 19D is mine and mine alone) and see the skies, clouds and appropriately be prompted to think through issues that are more "elevated" than what typical, day to day living surfaces. I don't know what it is but it seems like every time I set foot on an airplane, I find myself not only reflecting more on life's schedule but I discover that I enter solo deliberations on the purpose and meaning of my life at the moment. Sometimes, I'm tempted to blame the elevation for this very infrequent pastime but today, I'm simply entering the time of contemplation with a welcoming and anticipatory spirit.
You see, an airplane is like an isolation booth for me…it is the only time I really HAVE TO slow down, sit down, and stay down. I sometimes think that God is like a prizefighter that has taken me down to the mat for specific purposes only to see me NOT stay down but jump up at the expense of moments of revelation. I wonder at the exasperation of my Lord when He sees me, time and again, bobbing and weaving as He attempts to get His hands on me. My wife Vicky and I often comment on one of our grandkids constant and effervescent energy with the words, "does she ever slow down?" I wonder, in that great mystery of what theologians call, "perichoresis" (the relational interplay between the "persons" of the Trinity), if my living and loving God wonders the same about me.
Speed is not something I cherish in many aspects of life…I don't like to be in a car that is driving beyond my comfort zone…I don't like the same for boats, bike rides or even skiing but I am MORE THAN WILLING AND ABLE to embrace the breakneck speed of what life for many of us has become. Not too long ago, I read a book entitled,Speed (by Stephanie Brown). It was a volume dedicated to the analysis of speed in almost every aspect of life. One of the take aways that I had from the book is the "law" of assimilation and adaption that goes along with speed. It appears that the faster we go, the faster we have to go next time to get the same adrenaline rush. In other words, a high speed only leads to a higher speed. When I read that I realized that was the story of my life. I have been on the go for years…a busy schedule only bringing me some distress when the people around me are telling me to slow down. My angst about life's pace has nothing to do with some internal sense of restricting my speed. It is only a reality that the speed of my life affects those closest to me. It really is true that my life's story has been, "keep up or be left in the dust." I'm not one to stay any one place for a long time…I've moved more than I care to admit. I'm always looking for the next moment, the new experience, the things and activities I can encounter "out there" than being present in the moment. And that is a tragedy because, what I've learned the hard way, I've missed a lot of precious moments.
Another great book that I cherish in my life is:
Believe it or not, I've read it three or four times. Do I apply it? Very infrequently. Yet the thesis of the book is not far from my mind when I bother to slow down enough to think about it. The "sacrament," (the tangible, salvific, power injected, comfort filled, transformational moments) that are occurring RIGHT NOW are often just out of reach mostly because I can't grasp something that flies by at the speed of my life. As another milestone birthday is on the horizon for me this year I'm starting not only to wonder but am, for the first time in my life, actually contemplating what it will mean for me to slow down. The moments are passing and I'm missing them…my children and grandkids are growing and I'm still looking at my iPhone calendar program or worrying about what I've got to accomplish today because I'm already behind….my wife and I often miss moments because I left my mind and heart back in the car because a time warp hit me that allowed my body to walk in the door but has allowed my mind and heart to stay up to speed with internal demands…my desire for more joy, more music, more friends, more love, just MORE of the moments that promise to deliver meaning and purpose in life.
So, how about you? I've had the time and taken the opportunity to reflect on my pace of life…now it's your turn. Did you know that the Apostle Paul once wrote that we should have a keen eye on the use of our time (Ephesians 5:16)? Did you know that Jesus took off and spent time alone in reflection almost as many times as he spoke to large crowds? You see, with Jesus every moment was a sacramental moment…I wonder what it will take to get our lives to the point where that is true for us?