Life has been hectic in the past two weeks. It is almost as if our time of rest on holiday had silently wound up the mainspring of responsibilities and tasks whilst our backs were turned. Since our return at the end of April the days have been non stop. But unchecked busyness can be dangerously exhilarating, masquerading as the reason for living when in truth it is sometimes no more nor less than a lifestyle decision.
This weekend we met up with our children and grandchildren. Our first visit to them for over a month. Hugs and kisses, laughter and roomfuls of simultaneous chatter and animated family meals. Then, once younger ones had been tucked into bed and with diaries at the ready, there was talk of plans for the summer ahead. In no time at all visits north and south were pencilled in; day trips, birthdays, anniversaries and new school terms mapped into place, interwoven with weekly commitments, church meetings and dentists appointments! The tasks of housekeeping, gardening and the promised trips to the gym would have to fit into the rapidly diminishing white spaces on the page. No wonder I am finding it hard to have time to write. Before we knew it early Autumn hove into view. The times of our lives compressed into three small pages. And I am no longer working! No wonder the world seems stressed. I had a sudden overwhelming urge to stop the clock!
Reading a book by Lance Witt called “Replenish” I came last night to a chapter headed “What kind of old person do I want to be?” I found it spoke powerfully to me. Was I letting the relentless rush of life shape me without my realising it? Was I too driven? Was I unduly anxious? Did I still look for personal achievement as a measure of meaning? Have I already become an old man shaped by my history?
Equally how do I look toward tomorrow? With fear or optimism, resignation or a sense of promise? I realised not for the first time that character was of more lasting significance that attainment. And that begs the question - how am I nurturing my character, my inner me, my soul?
This week my wife and I were shocked to be told that a long-term friend has become very unwell and that their immediate future involved surgery, a long series of hospital treatments and extended convalescence.
Plans for tomorrow, the summer or the year ahead are no more than marks on a page, easily erased by events. Who I am and where I turn for food to feed my soul are supremely significant. For the first time in a while I picked up my habit of evening prayer, sitting on the floor in a darkened room, talking with my Maker about friends and family. His welcome for this prodigal’s return was beautiful and profound. Time became irrelevant, the moment was all that mattered in the presence of I AM.
Braced into the wind of life,
To be the man I have become;
Experience and worldly wisdom
Pale to shadow
In the brightest light
Of grace and love,
Who’s author daily welcomes home
This storm tossed prodigal.
I make my marks upon the page
Intent on plans that pride
Will be the road ahead,
And take for granted
He who’s Way this truly is,
Who walks my path
And stoops at last
To lift me through the narrow door.
(c) Martin Wild