You know that moment when you’re racing through the airport to catch a plane and you decide to take advantage of the moving sidewalk? Suddenly your right foot and your left foot aren’t coordinating quite right and your arms are windmilling and you hear that cartoon cowbell sound they always play just before the crash. After a split second of embarrassment you’re on your way again, only to have the same problem at dismount. Well, that’s the story of my summer.
Nothing happened this summer that was especially out of the ordinary, nothing that should cause more than a hiccup in my day to day routine, but all of it together had me windmilling a little bit. One minute you’re running so well…
Maybe you feel like that, too, heading back into school and work and schedules that go bump on the calendar. Maybe you’re ready to shed some complication and find a minute to just—breathe.
So that’s what I have to give you today. Here’s a minute. Lay it down. Breathe.
From Thirty Thousand Days, one of my favorite bits. I’ve shared it before, but that’s just because I need so much to re-learn it, year after year. Listen:
We stood at the top of the hill, at the particular bend in the road where we always turned around, pivoted in the mud, and stood rooted in it, our boots sinking in with stubbornness: here is where we will stay. The sun was setting in a rush; already the shadows rose up from the cliff bottoms to the east, and the tops, still sunbathing, faded fast. Only the really big mountain to the south was still clearly hanging on to daylight. It was time to go.
If peace were a place, this would be it. Peace, where aspen grow to unbelievable size. Peace, where red-winged blackbirds, misreading the calendar, sing spring through the snow. Peace, in a snug cabin stocked with board games and popcorn, stuck in another century. In Peace, you have time to pause at the window and notice things. You see a bird, a pretty one, maybe a bluebird, and you think, now what is the point of that bird? It doesn’t contribute anything practical to the world; it just sings a bit, and really, what good is such a small song? And you stand there, idle, with the dishcloth just dangling, and listen, and it is so quiet that that bird is all that you hear, that flash of sapphire against the snow is all that you see, and you wonder what kind of logic rules a world where singing sapphires flit through the trees going their happy-go-lucky way for no practical purpose. And then you are thinking about who would dream up such a world, full of flashes of beauty and grace, but where, time to time, one of those same bright birds crashes into a window and dies, and who would notice? And you are thinking deep theological thoughts, all because it was quiet and still, and you were paying just a tiny bit of attention.
I like Peace. I was not in favor of leaving. And so I stood in the twilight, begging the day to rewind, willing time to stretch out long and lazy like a cat. And it began to dawn on me that if Peace is a place, I would be leaving the next day, heading back down the mountain to the rushing world below. Nothing would be any different there—sirens and miscreants, hurry and worry, jangle and rattle and hum. But if I were different somehow, still, listening—if I could manage to pay a tiny bit of attention, maybe I would spot the city bluebirds. Maybe, if Peace is not a place but a person, Peace could come home with me.
We left the mountain, came back to civilization. We drove through a minor blizzard on a long and tipsy highway, clutching the wheel and breathing deep. We added two hours to our trip via a not-optional detour—the pass was closed—arriving tired and frazzled. Back in the world of tv and internet, we learned immediately of a demoralizing act of senseless violence, exactly where we were heading. I wanted to turn around, back through the blizzard, back to my happy place. But Peace was with me, and (no doubt with a longsuffering sigh) patted my hand in an easy there way.
Find quiet, Kate. Turn off the noisemakers. Be still. Pay attention. God is alive and well in the city, too. Look for him. Slow down. Choose light, the Light of the World. Spend time with him today. Remember all he has done. He is Peace.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled . . . .” John 14:27