One night last week I dreamed I was hurrying as fast as I could. I was at an airport, Philadelphia, I think. I was alone, running to find my gate to catch my flight. I made a quick stop in one of the restrooms on my way. Then I continued running toward my gate, carrying my bags. A few minutes later I realized I’d left my coat in the restroom. Despite my hurry, I turned around to go back for my coat. It was still there. I grabbed it and continued running toward my gate. I finally got to the gate, ten minutes after my plane was supposed to have departed. Fortunately, the flight was running late, just like me, and I was able to get on the plane.
Then my clock radio came on. I remember thinking – I’m so glad I can wake up and stop this mad race through the airport. I am home. I don’t have to rush to get here. I can relax. I don’t have to hurry.
I stayed in bed for a few minutes thinking about this dream. Then I got up to begin my day, intentionally not hurrying.
Why did I have this dream last week?
Thirty years ago when I lived in Chicago and worked for Northwest Industries I frequently traveled to Reading, Pennsylvania to work on IT projects for General Battery Corporation, one of the companies owned by Northwest Industries. I had many flights in and out of the Philadelphia airport, but I rarely was in a big hurry. One of my colleagues, Jan Persson, had taught me that I didn’t have to schedule my time so that I would always be in a hurry. There was another way. He taught me to allow two hours to get from my office in the Sears Tower in downtown Chicago to O’Hare Airport. Usually, the cab could get me there in 30 minutes, but if I allowed two hours, I never had to worry about missing a flight. If I ended up having an hour to waste at the airport, I didn’t have to waste it – I could find a lounge area, have a snack, open up my briefcase and actually do some work. Or, better yet, take some time to read. This could be good, productive time. Since cell phones hadn’t been invented yet, I wouldn’t have any interruptions at the airport.
Thinking back 30 years to those frequent trips to Philadelphia, both with Jan and sometimes traveling alone, brought my mind back to learning not to hurry. That’s a hard lesson to remember in our culture. Our society seems to equate being busy and having to hurry with being important and worthwhile. If we don’t have to hurry, that must mean we don’t have anything important to do.
Hmmm. Maybe I should re-think my commitment to giving up hurry for Lent… Remember, that’s what I wrote about in my blog last week. Does my fast from hurrying imply that I’m giving up doing things that are important and worthwhile during Lent? I don’t think so. I’ve started reading Alan Fadling’s book, An Unhurried Life, that I mentioned in last week’s blog. Stephen A. Macchia, founder and president of Leadership Transformation, is quoted on the back cover of the book:
An Unhurried Life unearths our idol of efficiency and the incessant struggle to catch up, keep up and stay up with the velocity of our high-energy world. Fadling invites us into a countercultural way of being present to God and to one another.
I’m taking my time through this book. I’m not far enough in my reading to have reached any conclusions of my own yet, but if learning to live an unhurried life means I will be more “present to God and to one another,” I think I’m moving in the right direction.
In the first chapter of the book, Fadling makes the point that Jesus lived his life on earth at a relaxed pace. He spent the first 40 days of his ministry in the wilderness. He frequently went off by himself to spend time in prayer. He took his time getting to see his friend Lazarus – taking so much time that Lazarus died before he got there. According to Fadling, perhaps the best word to describe Jesus’ approach to life is relaxed.
I don’t think I can picture Jesus rushing through the Philadelphia airport, but I’m pretty sure he would have taken the time to go back to get the coat he forgot in the restroom, especially if the coat would keep his mother warm for another twenty years.
I guess God is going to use a variety of media to help me learn more about “not hurrying” throughout Lent this year.