To Slow with the Hurt

Currently, I have a cold, my kids have a cold, and it has been starting to feel a little cold outside.  I am sitting on the couch after what has felt like a long day, full and tiresome, but my body refuses to sleep—my lids heavy, but my insides restless.  I drag my feet into the kitchen where I thoughtlessly begin softening butter to make the chocolate chip cookie recipe I have etched on my heart in my mom’s handwriting.  This time I was ¼ cup short on brown sugar so I subbed maple syrup, and the batter was almost too good.  I may or may not have consumed too much of it on account of its sheer, buttery-sweet perfection.

With fall, for me, comes melancholy and warmth mixed together like red and blue—hot and cold—to make something altogether different and beautiful; purple, which is the color my mom always chose as her favorite (especially when paired with teal).  On some days it makes me long to be outside admiring the leaves that have begun their dramatic and stunning expiration, and on others, I just have to curl up, bake myself some cookies, and watch “You’ve Got Mail” where Kathleen Kelly “misses her mom so much she can hardly breathe” too.

The windows are open, and I can hear the chirping of the crickets, a sound that will soon fade as they make way for the sea of white which will appear before any of us are ready.  Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the pace of things—the culture of “go” and “do” and “see.”  The culture of faster and newer and better.  I’ve felt myself trying to keep up, breathing heavy, hustling.  And in these last couple of weeks, I’ve been struck by the haste and am realizing that in the blink of an eye or with the eye of a hurricane the triviality of our culture can suddenly mean nothing anymore; it can fall to its’ rightful place at the bottom of the priority list when before it was vying for first place.  I don’t know why bad things happen—I’m not sure why there’s so much loss and devastation and pain between hurricanes, forest fires, and racial divide.  But there’s something about it all that makes those of us physically unaffected look around at our life and slow down for a minute.

We stop and stare wide-eyed at the news as they brim with tears, falling for the baby lost and the death toll rising; falling for the fire unstoppable and the smothering smoke; falling for the homes destroyed and the social progress negated; falling for the washed away cities and the washed away hopes for equality.  Sometimes we stare at the images of destruction and our hearts feel hard—unable to grasp onto our empathy because we have to make it to our meeting on time or switch the laundry or get to the grocery store or race to another soccer practice.

But for a longer moment than usual, we are grateful to be alive, and we peer out the windows of our existence to see the pain of a brother or sister in the deep throes of grief or devastation.  I remember when my mom’s life was snatched away from us, I couldn’t believe that life was spinning madly on without her—it felt like everything should stop.  It felt like everything was inconsequential in comparison with her loss.  It felt like my blankets were filled with weights each morning as I arose from bed.  There was nothing I’d ever experienced that had been so painful before.

So in the wake of such loss while these perfect strangers are living in that horrible fog, may we at least for just a moment or a few—stop.  Slow down the speed of our lives, and pray for the hearts that are broken today—that will still be broken tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that…Perhaps slow down not for just this moment, but in general.  When the world rushes madly on, and the ads for coupons continue filling our inboxes, and the urge to rush and go weighs on us heavily, let’s grab hold of our courage (because resisting temptation, resisting the current of our culture takes immense courage) nice and tight and say “no.”  May that “no” be a fasting of sorts, a reminder to relish in the beauty of life around us a little more.  Relish in the Maker of it all; the Knower of the reds and the blues—the passions and the sorrows—and the mixing of them both into the purple robe that our royal Prince of  Peace wears and covers us with if we just go to Him and humbly ask.  Slower, please.  Peace, please, Lord.