“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.” C.S. Lewis Weight of Glory
I have a bad habit of moving too fast. Whether I am busy and have a lot or just a little, I move too quickly. I could blame it partly on having long legs but really it has been more about my heart and mind being too busy and not fully present in the moment. I have missed many moments because of this. Thankfully, God is merciful and willing to help me learn and practice the art of being present.
One such lesson came early on in our venture. I had two young children, ages 4 and 6. I taught a Sunday School class and ran Women’s Ministry stuff. Although I lived not that far from the church, I pretty much always ran late and I cannot blame my kids. I would think of some signup sheet I needed to print out or a coloring page we could use for Sunday School or whatever was whirling in my brain. I would move at my hurry up pace and my poor kids would have a mama who would be dragging them in, as we were running late.
Along came a woman, I sadly cannot remember her name anymore, but I can still see her face, standing on her porch three doors down from the church. She would wait until I would pull in before beginning her slow, steady trek to church. She would wave and call out my name. So I would wait. I would try to wait patiently for her, but sometimes I would try willing her to walk faster with my mind. This scene played out Sunday after Sunday. We would walk into church together and talk about how she was doing and about her aches and pains. I would practice being present but to be honest I was not very good at it. She never seemed to notice. She just hooked her arm in mine and we would slowly approach the church together.
One Sunday after I got my friend into the sanctuary and was rushing down the stairs to my classroom, someone stopped me and asked me if this woman was my latest “project.” I was so mad at the thought and let the woman know that people are not projects, although if I were honest my attitude would seem to point to that. I may have extended that explanation a bit too long to prove my point but part way through my diatribe I was struck that God was using my friend to slow me down. That I was actually the “project,” and this woman was a vessel being used by God to teach me how to slow down and be present, to not miss the moment I was in. I became thankful for her Sunday morning gift to me. She moved away a little while later, unfortunately.
I try to remember this lesson. I try to be more intentional about slowing down and seeing people. I still bump and jostle people as I fly through the halls, usually because I am late, but now when I am late it is more because I am attempting to be present with another human being who is made in the image of God and many times I am convinced they are Jesus in disguise, patiently helping me slow down and be present and not miss this one beautiful life.