Jesus said these words to the woman he met at the well in Samaria. (Read the story here.) She had no idea what lay before her as she headed to the well that day. She was walking straight into an encounter with God Himself, yet it took her quite a while to realize that anything different was going on. His coming would be a gift to her that day at the well, but there was always the possibility that she would be moving so fast that she would miss what was really happening.
I find the same is often true of me. I head into my day on mental autopilot, with my to do list and the expectations of people moving me forward much like the puppeteer manipulates his marionette. All of my actions simply become reactions to things that are already pushing and driving me in a given direction. I am beginning to realize that this type of life doesn’t leave any space to recognize the gifts of God, gifts, as I wrote in the poem in my last post, that are sometimes given in ways that don’t resemble gifts at all. Somehow we all need to stop, or at least slow down to be aware of what is happening around us.
This is complicated by our current addiction to technology and connectedness. Any spare moment we have is directed toward a screen that fills our lives with even more expectations and things we need to do. We are constantly living in some fabricated world of expectations and future compulsions that takes us away from the moment we are actually in. Many writers before me have played with the phrase “the gift of the present”, but the idea doesn’t have to be original to me to have meaning. One of the reasons that we miss the gifts that God brings to us is that we are moving so fast we don’t even notice they are here before us. Granted, they often look very different than we expected them to, but that’s even more reason to slow down long enough to unwrap them to see what God has given to us and why He felt we needed it.
My basketball team this year is young and inexperienced, but they are fast. I’ve never had a team that was so quick and athletic and I’m excited to see where they will go. But the speed brings issues that its absence does not. Often they are moving so fast that they miss good opportunities as they play. Or they force things that haven’t quite materialized yet. I’ve coined a phrase I say 20+ times per practice, “We play fast, but not frantic.” I am finding the need to apply that bit of coaching wisdom in my own life. What I like to call fast and efficient is often just a frantic ping-ponging through life, responding and reacting to everything instead of actually living and being present to what God is doing moment by moment. Annie Dillard, in her amazing book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, writes…
I love that image more than I can say. I want to live fully in each moment, emptied and hollowed out enough to have space to catch whatever gift God is giving me. The lovely side of this is that God always gives grace, poured out like a waterfall. It doesn’t always look like grace, but if we don’t slow down long enough to stick around we miss so much that is happening on a deep and profound level.
My hope for myself (and for you too) is that today we can hike the trail slow enough to make room to fill our cups under the waterfall of the grace of God.