Twentieth century existential psychologist Rollo May said, “It is an old and ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way.” The more I think about that statement, the closer I get to full agreement with Dr. May. We often think that the faster we work, the quicker we can solve a seemingly unsolvable problem. How many times do we find ourselves lost in our problems and never stop long enough to evaluate our options? In my life I can recall times that I did not know where I was or what I was doing there, but I continued to busy my life with frantic activity.
Much to our surprise that whole concept was changed about six weeks ago, and we still are trying to wrap our heads around the new normal. We now are staying at home and only doing essential things. I hope that you, as I have, take this time as a period of introspection and renewal. Just as we will be practicing social distancing for the foreseeable future, we should consider allowing ourselves breathing space to pray, think and renew. Let us clear our minds as well as our schedules. Jesus gives some advice.
After a very tiring day of ministry, Jesus said to his disciples, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” He had found himself in a situation where rest was necessary for more ministry to follow. In the same way, we can lose ourselves in good things, works that make a difference, and literally become exhausted and unable to accomplish our goals. In these times we are lost, and hurried activities will not solve our lostness.
We must allow ourselves not only social distancing but breathing space to think, to rest and to find ourselves. Never have I heard a story of a lost person who found his way by moving faster, but often we find our center as we slow down. If you find yourself feeling lost or overwhelmed, take time to do an inventory. Breathing space can make all the difference in the world. We all have been forcibly slowed. Let us not waste this precious time.
I will share a poem from Mary Oliver.
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I do not know exactly what a prayer is.
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
There has never been a better time to look at our lives than the situation we are in at this moment. Let us take the time to breathe and examine.
LORD, I thank you for the breathing space that you have given to me. Let me not waste it being resentful of things that have been taken from me. Rather, let this be my time of discovery and growth. Lead me this day to find something new and grand that I can take with me the rest of my life.