Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Deliberate Contemplation

Yesterday I enjoyed a little outdoors. I pulled a few weeds from around some of the vegetable plants, and took pleasure in the fresh air, good dirt, and sunshine. I didn’t pull nearly all the weeds, but a few of the larger offenders anyway, and more for enjoyment versus actually making any progress. It was truly to take a break from my busy day.

The great outdoors, the quiet, the peace – I love it! Certainly not a luxury I experience often. Hectic schedules, multitasking to get everything done, and electronic intrusions (smartphones) are more the norm around here, and I suspect for most people anyway. Life is so busy and fast-paced. And it’s really a shame.

I wonder what all this busy-ness is doing to our kids. With all the technology, gadgets, and devices they are growing up with, will they even know how to relax? Fully scheduled calendars, vibrating smartphones, uploading photo’s to Facebook, and doing homework between texts is unfortunately our kids “normal.” Certainly all this new technology makes being connected much easier, but what’s it doing for our downtime? Do our kids even have any downtime?

It is good to slow down, and even stop now and then. To be quiet. Listen. Observe. And to feel connected.

The story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-42 says it best:

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

I confess, if Jesus were my guest, I would probably be more like Martha. Jesus is here, I would think, I must prepare a magnificent meal. And only the best would do. I would get busy searching my pantry and garden for the freshest foods available. I’d wash the fine china to serve the meal. Then I’d cook, using only the finest ingredients. And like Martha, I’d be very jealous of my sister, who wasn’t helping, but chose instead to spend time with Jesus.

But that’s just it. Mary chose to spend time with Jesus. And it’s our choice too what we do with our time. Perhaps we should learn from Mary, and let go of our anxiousness and troubles, our busy and hectic lifestyles, and listen for and draw closer to God. Throughout his life, even Jesus took time to be alone in prayer. Sending his disciples ahead of him or retreating to a mountain, He would often withdraw to pray. His life is an example of how we are to live ours.

Today’s lifestyle doesn’t lend well to teaching our kids how to slow down or relax. Rather it’s all about multitasking and achieving more in less time. So as parents, it’s up to us to live our lives as examples. This means spending less time worrying over what is left to be done, and more time in stillness and deliberate contemplation. Not an easy task in everyday life, but one well worth the effort.