Memorial Day weekend will start in a few days. First, I wish to thank all of our troops and veterans who have served and their families for enduring many sacrifices which I have not had to endure. Your service means a great deal to me. Thank you.
This also means that I will not go to work on Memorial Day, next Monday. While I do not wish to minimize the point of the holiday, I plan to enjoy this day-off from my job. Long weekends are sweet and succulent when they come, somewhat due to their rarity.
This weekend will be a time to slow down. Times to slow down come infrequently, yet this is not necessary of them.
Much of life in America nowadays relies on moving at a fast pace. I deal with this at my job every day. Maybe you do too. Architecture is deadline-driven and customers “want their buildings finished yesterday,” as one of my coworkers told me. He continued to say that this pressure for speed inevitably compromises the quality of the products, the buildings.
High-speed functioning isn’t confined to paid jobs, either. Last weekend I was sitting in a church service, relaxing and enjoying the time I could spend with a crowd of people. I had just finished shaking hands and getting to know a man who was sitting behind me (the “awkward” part of church services), and was settling into a chair next to my friends. The weather outside was sunny, warm and gorgeous, and a light breeze was blowing as I had entered the building. Serenity filled my mind.
Then a girl walked onto the stage, obviously nervous. She spoke quickly into a microphone about some prayer requests which two people had written to the staff the week before. Then she asked us in the audience, “Would you pray with me really quick?”
I am not saying she did anything wrong or improper, but those last two words communicated that prayer is unimportant and an inconvenience.
Plenty of prayers are said “really quick.” They can be requests made to our loving Father, comments of adoration of him or his creation, pleas for help, or statements of gratitude for his provision.
But focusing on these as the only way to pray greatly diminishes the power of prayer.
Not all prayer should last for long periods. Indeed, Jesus warned against unnecessarily long prayers in Matthew 6:7. But we need not avoid spending significant amounts of time speaking with our Father in heaven; consider Daniel. Just as we do with our friends, we should invest time in our relationship with God by speaking with him.
Prayer and work are two of many ways we rush our lives. For my part, I have noticed that I typically do not pay attention to my thoughts and actions during the “in-between times” of my life: when I am driving, walking or otherwise traveling; when I take small breaks from working; when I am waiting for friends to meet with me; and many other times. I spend these times worrying, daydreaming and generally wasting time.
Lately I have tried to replace this time-wasting with efforts to simply enjoy my life. The sun is out most days, and even when it isn’t, the skies, trees, animals, people and buildings around me are beautiful and fascinating. Sometimes I will read a book. Other times I will journal. My intent is to make use of every moment I have, and also to relax and leave behind the burden of stress that I so often carry on my shoulders.
When I first read the Lord of the Rings, one character who particularly annoyed and bored me was Treebeard. He was always saying “Don’t be hasty” to the hobbits and never did anything quickly. Yet now I realize there is much I can learn from his attitude. When I listen to his advice to not be hasty, I realize I can pay attention to and care for the people around me, and re-focus on and adore the Lord our God. That is, after all, the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:36-40).