Slow down and live thoughtfully
By H.M. Wyeth
By H.M. Wyeth
Round and round they went, as fast as they could go. Some of the more aggressive and impatient raced their slower neighbors. Where did they think they were going? As far as I could tell, they were speeding in a circle.
A sign on the aquarium wall explained that the donut-shaped tank contained a mechanism to create a 3-knot current, against which the fish would instinctively swim. From the observation lounge in the tank's center, I watched them, fascinated. They reminded me of people driving on the freeway.
That resemblance prompted me to think about the currents of modern life. Why and against what current does our supposedly intelligent species race around so frantically? Where do we, especially we who live on small islands in a vast ocean, imagine we are going? To an observer in the center of our tank, do we seem as mindless as those fish?
Though the obsession with speed seems to be a disease of today, it has long been with us. In the late 19th century, for example, a wise observer of human foibles, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, "Rushing around smartly is no proof of accomplishing much." In the same collection of essays, titled "Improve Your Time," she called this behavior "travel of limb more than mind," and denounced it as one way of wasting, not improving, time.
So where does faith enter this picture? Many warn of the danger of too much rushing around. The Old Testament book of Proverbs (16:25) says, "There is a way that seemth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." This pretty well sums up the modern world's need for speed.
Yet what if the day does not seem to hold enough hours for work, family, worship, education, exercise and all the things people need to do? How can one do everything without rushing?
Some would say that no one in history did more than Christ Jesus. Demands on him certainly seemed unremitting. People thronged toward him asking for advice, comfort and healing. How did he keep from feeling overwhelmed?
All the Gospels record that Jesus healed hundreds of people.
John in the 11th chapter of his Gospel tells a similar tale of Jesus' refusal to rush, in this instance, to heal his friend Lazarus. In that case, Jesus did not show up until four days after the man died. Unfazed by the reproaches of Lazarus' sisters that if he had come earlier their brother might still be alive, Jesus called him forth from his tomb.
A lesson for people of today is Jesus' refusal to join the race around the tank. John 5:19 may explain it: "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do. ..."
People often rush around because they feel personally responsible for doing everything in their lives. Yet Jesus, who accomplished more that most even dream of, disclaimed all personal agency. He recognized that without his father's help, he could do nothing. He also taught that this help is available to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Why not take advantage of that help? Stop racing around the tank and take a walk with God.
H.M. Wyeth is a member of the Christian Science Society, Kaua'i.