hurry up and slow down

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I walk into a lamp lit bedroom, pull covers up, tuck toes back under blankets and soft hair behind small ears. I pause. The first of the day. I marvel at the little nose on the face of a girl. She has her grandfathers nose, has since birth, though hers is fairy-kissed with freckles. I touch dream-filled heads. These people, my little people, how obvious it seems to me in the stillness of night, that I am anything but still. I rush about trying to keep just one step ahead of my responsibilities. Don't I though, have a responsibility to these children? And isn't it the most important one of all? How often do I add them to my agenda? They are, of course, with me all day, everyday, but most of that time is spent going through the motions of an overfilled existence. I kiss checks and turn out the light.

Children so naturally know the art of stillness. It is well disguised in the busyness of little bodies running through the house, but they know 'still'. They teach me this everyday. They see through the lists and schedules. The clock is not a ticking task master - taking, taking, taking. In the asking for one more story, in the dawdling of little legs, in the world of imagination which sweeps them in as chickens are feed and early morning chores await, they teach me. And in the stillness of the night, as I tuck them into bed they ask without words that I be still and listen to their hearts as they speak. They can so easily see what is important and those things that matter most.

Why all this rushing? I think I am filling my bucket. Actually, I am turning it on end and pouring to empty.

I know what I should do.

But I am afraid.

I am afraid of being left behind, of missing some grand adventure. I am afraid that my children will miss out, not be as happy as they could be with a long list of accomplishments. I am afraid that I am simply not doing enough. Enough helping, enough learning, enough serving. Somehow the things I do become who I am, and I feel like I am simply not enough.

I need to learn to say no. And the person I need most of all to say no to is myself. I need to trust that these children need me, not a thousand distractions. They need time to just be and play and pretend and discover who they are, not what they can do. There is a place for that, but it is not first.

What am I teaching them? That happiness is found in the "badge" of busyness? Outside of us, of who we are?

We are not our list of accomplishments. We are not the clothes we wear, the things we collect, or the miles we run. These children have my love because they are mine, alone, that is all.

I want to lock away the world, close my door to the many things that vie for my attention. Days blur together into weeks. Children turn another year older. And still I rush. This rushing, it is aggressive, intrusive, unwelcome. How do I jump off the roller coaster? 

I close my eyes and pray for help. I pray for balance. I pray for guidance. I pray most especially to lose the desire for the praise and approval of the world. And He whispers that I am loved. His is not a love given as a 1st place ribbon. He loves not for the talents I have or the many things I accomplish. He loves me because I am His. There are no requirements for His love. And I yearn for understanding.

I long to live life on purpose, intentionally in each moment.

I turn off the computer. The cell phone is put away. I forget the outside world, if even for a few hours each day, and give to my children what I am blowing to the wind. I fear sometimes I cannot possibly give them everything I think they need. Then, when I still myself, I realize that although it is true - I cannot give them everything - I can give them all of me, that is all I have. If I am divided and frayed, that will be my offering to them, these precious children. Life is busy, but what am I busy doing?

I take sacred advice from one I admire. I will not wear busyness as a badgeAs children run circles around my legs and pull on my sleeves and heartstrings for the one thing they need the very most, me, just me, plain and unprepared, I can be still. I can live life in that moment and learn from little wiggling limbs the art of stillness inside. I long to develop a heart that can capture the wonderment each moment this beautiful life has to offer, as they so naturally do. I need, in all my Martha like anxieties, to learn to be like Mary and just be in each moment.

There in the stillness I discover more is not what is asked for. Less of so many of the unimportant things in life - that is where I need to start. In that place of less there is more, so much more. With less I see clearly. I discover me, who I truly am. The more beauty I see around me. So much less is occupying those sacred corners of the heart. And I am filled with so much more to give.