Have you ever heard the phrase “hurry sickness”? This one is fairly new to me. It is quite self-explanatory, isn’t it? We live in a culture that values people who can cram as much as possible into each of the hours of the day. The stress of this time/productivity kind of focus is making us sick as a society.
Time is money. Time is of the essence. Time is running out.
This mentality makes it hard to value time spent with little ones at home, “not getting much done”. The small and mundane and even relational things of our days can seem unimportant in the light of what our culture values, what we value.
Once when I was homeschooling our kids, we happened upon a cocoon on a bush in our yard. We had the gift of watching a butterfly slowly emerge from its shell. We sat in the grass for over an hour to watch this show. When the butterfly was fully out, it slowly walked over to a tree and fanned its wings for another hour. Now that is slow, but what a wonder to be able to see it!
In order to see this, someone had to be looking. The cocoon was not in plain sight, but it was visible. In order to see the butterfly, we had to stop and watch. We had to slow down and take notice.
On another day in summer, I sat with my kids in the hammock and the three of us listened to all the sounds we could possibly hear at that moment. How often do we sit and just listen? How many beautiful things might we miss in our day because we don’t really look or don’t really listen?
On many occasions there would be melt downs in our house (and not just me). When I considered the source of many of them, it could be traced to mom not really paying attention. I was focused on getting something done, I was not listening to the mounting frustration, or I was just plain not listening to the kids.
The good and peaceful times I remember with my kids are times of slowness, of talking and listening. What if we valued taking time to notice, to talk, to listen, to play, and to be very present in the moment? What would that look like? I believe that is one of the many blessings of being with little ones…they notice things that we don’t and they are almost impossible to rush. Kids seem to be naturally observant of their world and slow in order to take things in.
I think I would like to be more like one of these. I would stop and look at the shapes of clouds and the colors in the sky. I would stop and ask questions about how things work and wonder at wonderful things. I would notice the textures…shininess, roughness, sparkliness and marvel. I would be more attuned to the emotional atmosphere around me and wonder if you were happy or sad. I would hug and say “thank you” a lot.
Slowing down and really seeing gives us room to really breathe. It puts things in perspective. Is our time schedule really the center of the universe? Does that frustration really, really matter in the end?
I have been learning to slow down, to give myself margin, to not live my life all the way to the edge. And what have I gained from this slow down? Thankfulness. Really seeing and appreciating what is all around me causes me to be thankful for all that God has put into my life and into this world. What a gift!