At the cottage this year, my husband and I spent some wonderful evenings enjoying the view of Charleston Lake and, as usual, this quiet time surrounded by God’s Green Earth had us thinking about the pace of our day-to-day lives.
Like Annie Dillard, tinkering at her creek, I often find that the time I spend in nature is spiritually charged. It compels me to reflect on and examine my life and to learn from the wisdom embedded in creation. This particular vacation, my attention was drawn to the flight patterns of two birds.
Have you ever observed the distinct contrast between a loon’s frantic flapping and a hawk’s majestic soaring? Sure, they both make it to their chosen destination but watching them get there reveals a significant difference; the loon looks like she is barely surviving while the hawk makes it look easy. Truly, loons are not very graceful when they fly. They exert so much energy and appear to be fighting against the wind and the gravitational pull whenever they are airborne. It seems they should take some advice from Dory and “just keep swimming” because they’ve got that mode of travel mastered. Just take your time, loons. Stop trying so hard. Align your flight with the power of the wind.
So, I’m a bit loony. Shocking revelation, I know. Friends, I am fighting every fiber of my being as a Type A, driven, task-oriented individual and am resigning myself to the fact that this pace is not a healthy or inspiring way to travel. Actually, it’s a little crazy.
I often succumb to the frenetic pace of our society because I feel the need to get somewhere or to accomplish something according to an arbitrary timeline that I have established for myself, generally based on unrealistic expectations and external pressures. I rarely orient my life to a rhythm that breathes. Hence, the frantic flapping and the trying too hard. And the grace-less flight.
But, I am weary from all the flapping and I’m baby-stepping my way into the hawk program.
The late Dallas Willard offered the wise instruction to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives”. I must do this. I know it to be true. But it is SO HARD.
So, where is the hope for me in all this loon-acy? How can I reorient my pace to something that is life-giving instead of life-draining?
I think it is as simple and as hard as this: daily I must resist the tyranny of the urgent and SLOW DOWN. Daily I must choose to live in harmony with the indwelling Spirit, release all the busyness and striving, and become attentive to God’s work in and through me.
If I want to soar, I have to put my hope in the Lord to renew my strength.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like [hawks];
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40, italics mine