On Easter Abbey spent about an hour out on our deck, watching two geese float back and forth on the pond. She said to me, “Mom, did you notice that two of our geese have finally come back home? Two years ago they were here at the beginning of Lent. This year they didn’t come back until Easter. Why were they so slow in returning?”
“I don’t know, Abbey. Maybe it’s because of how cold our winter was, and how long the cold weather stayed with us this year. I was beginning to wonder if they had decided not to come back at all.”
“I’m glad they’re back, even if they were in no hurry to get here. It’s fun to watch them glide on the water so gracefully.”
“Speaking of HURRY, Abbey, how well do you think I did at giving up HURRY for Lent?”
“What do you mean, Mom?”
“Remember, I said I was going to give up HURRY for Lent? You were the one who told me I was always in too much of a hurry to enjoy life. How do you think I did? Did I succeed in giving up HURRY for Lent? What kind of grade would you give me?”
“Well, you did stop saying ‘Hurry up, Abbey’ when we went out for our walks. That’s progress… You let me take all the time I needed to sniff out the news about who’d been walking in my yard. I guess I could give you a grade of B. Sometimes you tugged on my leash a little, so you don’t quite deserve an A.”
“I really tried to stop living my life in a hurry. I think hurrying has become a habit for many of us. We schedule too many things to do, without really thinking about how much that will make us rush around rather than allowing ourselves to make the most of what we’re doing at the time.”
“Did you read that book you wanted to read during Lent?”
“Yes, I did. The book was An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest by Alan Fadling. There were some good thoughts in the book, but overall I was a little disappointed in it. The author focused pretty specifically on pastors, so quite a bit of the book wasn’t very relevant to me. What sticks in my mind most from the book is the story of The Good Samaritan. What if the Good Samaritan had been in too much of a hurry going about his own business to help the wounded man? That possibility was pretty easy to relate to. The discussion of that story reminded me of the Saturday morning prayer for Spring in Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim by Edward Hays:
… As this Earth spins around at thousands of miles an hour,
my mind spins with plans for this day.
At the same time as I use your gift of organizing,
grant me also the gift of openness to what you, my God,
may have in store for me on this new spring day.
May I be open to sacred surprises.
Grant me the readiness to set aside my plans when life proposes another agenda
or the needs of others invite me to unexpected service…
“You know, Abbey, the perfect ending to Lent this year came for me on Saturday night.”
“What happened Saturday night? I know you were gone for a long time.”
“We had an Easter Vigil at church. This was a first for our church (MessiahChurch.com). Since we now regularly have a Saturday night service, as well as two services on Sunday morning, we had to figure out what kind of service to have for the Saturday night before Easter. We decided to do a somewhat abbreviated Easter Vigil. It didn’t last until midnight, like a traditional Easter Vigil would, but it was somewhat longer than a normal service.
“We gathered in the darkened community room of the church. In the middle of the room was a huge, beautiful centerpiece with dozens of candles of all sizes symbolizing a bonfire. You would have loved it, Abbey. I saw one little girl, probably about three, timidly walk around some people to get a good look at the pillars of fire. As soon as she saw it, her eyes sparkled and she called back to her mom to come quick and see. She was beaming with excitement.”
“I wish you could bring me along to things like this, Mom. Tell me more about it.”
“After a couple short readings in the community room, the pastor lit the big Easter candle from the “bonfire” and then the fire was passed on to everyone gathered there, each person holding a small candle. The pastor led a procession into the church. When everyone was inside the church, the pastor chanted ‘The Exultet.’
“What did that sound like, Mom?”
“It was beautiful, Abbey. Hearing the chanting made me feel like I was a part of our long faith tradition, like I was joined together with ancestors going all the way back to the time of Christ, even back to the time of Abraham, way back to the time of creation.”
“Wow. If I had been there, I bet I would have been tempted to howl like my wolf ancestors!”
“I bet you would have, Abbey. To remind us of how God has been with us throughout history, there were several Old Testament readings. We sang a response after each reading. There was also a reading from Romans, which was followed by loud joyful singing to announce the reading of the Gospel. After all these readings there was a homily, an adult baptism and confirmation, and communion. The service ended with the congregation joyfully singing ‘Jesus Christ Is Risen Today.’ It was really fun to pull out the loud stops on the organ to accompany the congregation as they sang this Easter hymn. The whole vigil was dramatic and wonderful. And you know what, Abbey? It wasn’t rushed at all. We didn’t hurry through any part of the service. It was wonderful to be fully engaged in each moment of the Easter Vigil.”
“It’s a good thing you practiced not hurrying all through Lent, so that you didn’t feel antsy during the vigil.”
“You may be right, Abbey. But, it really felt good to just be in the moment, to be worshiping God, and to be remembering our history and God’s love for us throughout all history, and even up to today.
“It was also good to end the evening with a party, enjoying time together with our friends in church. We had just been reminded of how much God cares for us. That’s something to celebrate!”
“Hey, Mom. I’m re-thinking the grade I gave you for fasting from HURRY for Lent. I think we both learned three good reasons for not hurrying through life, to not let HURRY become a habit.
- First, we need to not hurry for our own good, so that we have time to fully experience the hidden joys in each moment of everything we do.
- Second, we need to not hurry so that we can take time to respond to the needs of others we happen to run into – like the Good Samaritan did.
- And third, we need to not hurry so that we can recognize God being present with us – like you experienced during the Easter Vigil.
“I think maybe I’ll give you an A-minus, Mom, for your fast from HURRY. You still need to learn to never tug on my leash, even gently, just because you’re in a hurry. But together, we’ve learned a lot these past few weeks.”
The geese on our pond already know it’s best not to hurry.