Advice of the week: don’t gulp down life. Strange little piece of advice, at that, isn’t it?
But it’s also a serious piece of advice. Don’t we all do that — especially in these times when everything is so rush-rush?
We gulp at this. We gulp at that. We want everything at once. We even want everything spiritual at once.
But what we have to realize is that what grows strongest (and tallest) takes time.
God shows us that in nature. How many realize that it can take more than a generation for a single olive tree to bear fruit — but that once it does, it does so for centuries? Look how long it takes for a redwood! These are a summer pondering.
The same holds true for us — not that we have a generation of time to spend, but that the firmest advances in our life take natural development. Be natural, the famed mystic Maria Esperanza always used to say.
God is not interested in how quickly we do something (unless there is an emergency attached to it), but how well we do it. In nature we know that when we nurture a tree as it grows at its natural pace, instead of forcing it along, it grows better. Producing nice flowers means flowing with the flower’s natural pace.
Do the same with yourself — and those around you.
Nurture steady growth in the timing of God, and don’t gulp too much. What happens when we gulp too much food? We really don’t enjoy it. It’s gone before we know it. And all that we remember is the heartburn.
How we gulp! How we grab!
When we feel too much in a rush, that’s when we should clear the deck, settle down, and pray. God will provide the proper course of timing! Meanwhile, try to enjoy what is here. As one e-mail put it, “Too many people put off something that brings them joy just because they haven’t thought about it, don’t have it on their schedule, didn’t know it was coming, or are too rigid to depart from their routine.
“How many women out there will eat at home because their husbands didn’t suggest going out to dinner until after something had been thawed? Does the word ‘refrigeration’ mean nothing to you? How often have your kids dropped in to talk and sat in silence while you watched ‘Jeopardy’ on television?”
Good questions for us all — men and women. We’ll go back and visit the grandparents when we get the baby toilet-trained. We’ll entertain when we replace the living-room carpet. We’ll go on a second honeymoon when we get two more kids out of college. And, of course, when that’s done, there’s something else…
Have we called that friend or relative we should call? Are we maintaining a personal touch in the era of answering machines, voice mail, and e-mail? Have we taken the time to give ourselves a little treat we may deserve?
Americans cram so much into their lives that we tend even to schedule our headaches. We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves that we will do this or that when all the conditions are perfect!
They never are. Instead of taking one thing at a time, instead of taking one day at a time, we pump adrenalin into the system by starting each day with a growing laundry list of what we have to do — until we’re nervous wrecks and don’t have the time to do anything.
We all are susceptible to this, and what a shame it is. When we wait too long to do something we should, it’s a missed opportunity. When you worry and hurry through your day, it’s like an unopened gift: thrown away. Life is not a race. Take it slower. Seize every situation. Savor it. Hear the music before the song is over. Start the day not with a list of everything that you should do, but with a prayer to the Holy Spirit about what you need to do that day.
That list will almost certainly be shorter than the one you create but will bear fruit for eternity.
[see also: four of ten in UK regret life choices]
[resources: A Life of Blessings special: