Slowing down, finding God
I barely made it to the store in time. It was my usual late-night Saturday (read: pre-Sunday) run. (Where I live, lots of us Mormons do that so as to avoid shopping on Sunday. Why we wait until Saturday night (why not Friday? or Saturday afternoon?) is a humorous rhetorical question. It makes for a fun neighborhood gathering, anyway. But, alas, I digress.)
Nearly running, I made my way from one end of the store to the other so I could get to the checkout stand by closing time. There were two lines open; I chose one and unloaded my cart.
The woman in front of me pulled a manager over and whispered something in her ear. I wasn’t sure what was happening, but it was definitely slowing down the process.
I don’t know anyone who isn’t the type to look for the shortest line and then bemoan it when Murphy’s law = your line ends up being the slowest. Oddly enough, though, for whatever reason (I’m can think of no other explanation than “it was grace”), I wasn’t feeling antsy. I had made it to the checkout before closing, but besides that, I really wasn’t in a hurry. And besides that, my items were already on the belt, so….
It soon became clear that the woman in front of me was trying to find a way to pay for the groceries of a woman who had come before her. The manager was trying to figure out how/if that could be done, and this woman was running back to get gift cards (she knew the woman in need and was coordinating with the manager to have this all work as a secret).
This Christlike woman kept apologizing, but my heart was about to burst. The clerk, the manager, and I were all fighting tears.
It was a sacred moment, one I thanked the woman for giving us.
I feel like God is trying to teach me something.
I have a new goal to not eat standing up. That may sound silly, but I’m always rushing about, shoving this food or that into my mouth while I’m running to the next thing. Or I put off eating all together. Not only is this not good for my body; it’t not good for my spirit. I’m not yet to the point of not multi-tasking while I eat, but my goal is to only read from real books (not a screen) while I slow down, sit, and eat.
So last night, while I was eating a snack, I sat and savored a chapter in Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. The title of the chapter? Timely to be sure: “a sanctuary of time.”
The chapter is about slowing down and cherishing the moment. She quotes a pastor who shares his greatest regret:
“Being in a hurry,” he says.
Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing…. Through all that haste, I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away. [found on p. 65-66 of Voskamp’s book; originally found in Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Your Sabbath, p. 45; emphasis added by Voskamp]
Whatever the pace, time will keep it and there’s no outrunning it, only speeding it up and pounding the feet harder; the minutes pound faster too. Race for more and you’ll snag on time and leak empty. The longer I keep running, the longer the gash, and I drain, bleed away.
Hurry always empties a soul (p. 67).
And yet our souls crave the exact things that hurry cannot give us: God. Stillness. Peace.
I think we all hear and know that “being present” matters somehow, but it’s so very hard to actually slow down enough to do that. My mind is always thinking about the next thing I need to do or the thing I need to work on or the thing I am afraid of or the thing that got my goat…or…or….
I’m grateful that God took the time this weekend to help me, teach me, invite me to slow down, to be willing to wait — if even just in a grocery line — and to watch and see that He is there, everywhere, ever-ready to show His face. All I need to do is release my chaotic clutch on time a little, and instead let life move at His pace a little more.
When the veil which encloses us is no more, time will also be no more (D&C 84:100). Even now, time is clearly not our natural dimension. Thus it is that we are never really at home in time. Alternately, we find ourselves impatiently wishing to hasten the passage of time or to hold back the dawn. We can do neither, of course. Whereas the bird is at home in the air, we are clearly not at home in time—because we belong to eternity. Time, as much as any one thing, whispers to us that we are strangers here. ~Neal A. Maxwell
And yet while in this sphere bound by time, God need not be a stranger to us.
“Wherever you are, be all there.”
(Elisabeth Elliot, Through Gates of Splendor, p. 20; quoted on p. 69 and 77 of Voskamp’s book)