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A Pace of Grace RevisitedAugust 5, 2013
How does it happen? Despite a clear intention to sustain a gentle pace in all circumstances, able to discern the subtlest teachable moment in whatever occurs, open to the will of Heaven, I find myself swirling in a vortex of chaos hardly able to catch my breath. Boundaries? What are they? I’m in triage here, able to respond only briefly to whatever seems most pressing at the moment. Why is it that demands accelerate in proportion to the vanishing time available to meet them? I start rummaging to find that T shirt that says, "I just realized. I don’t care."
I had a bit of a melt-down recently, yelling, "What the – is going on here?" and my husband was wise enough not to utter a word. Just when you think you cannot handle another thing, a friend dies and you know you have to cancel the whole day of intricate planning to be there. No regrets, it just means shuffling priorities once again.
For me, this is a kind of culture shock, accustomed as I have happily become to the steady, delicate tides, flowing gently in and out accompanied by soft South Sea breezes. I am used to hours for prayer and meditation. Now, back in North America to sell our home of 25 years, I am reduced to quickies with God. Not my favorite way to communicate.
The saving grace is that I am not alone in this maelstrom. My husband is equally bewildered, thrown off balance by the myriad details to be handled, the constant repacking and shedding of yet more belongings either to the enormous give-away pile in our out-building, or to storage bins to be transferred when the house sells. And we both resort to a kind of gallows humour about the demise of our treasured peace.
It is not easy to find meaning in the midst of chaos, but one either believes in Divine guidance or not. God does not take holidays...that I know of. So, we breathe deeper as we face yet another reversal about someone willing to take on the lease of our car, and decide to loan it to a friend who needs trustworthy transport. We return to our property for the fourth time, once again to unload yet more of what we thought we couldn’t live without.
We pause for reflection and talk about the pattern in which we find ourselves. We ask the question, "What do we really need in our newly adopted island home in the Pacific?" I could have three sarongs and a pair of flip flops and be just fine. And one nice Sunday outfit. Yet, I’m meticulously culling my favorite summer shoes down to five pairs (not counting three pairs of flip flops.)
It feels like we are being both shaken and stirred. Today, for the first time, we have a day in transit with no medical appointments, no lunches with friends, no requirements at all before we take off by plane tomorrow to visit family en route back to the South Pacific. I went out to the motel pool and sat in the sun to pray. Almost every day, in my Virtues Pick, despite shuffling, I receive Optimism. And it does make me smile. It strongly suggests there is light at the end of the tunnel.
So, what’s the point? Each day, other than my three minute meltage, I have consciously chosen serene efficiency as my mantra. Sitting in the local hospital awaiting a medical test, for which I had to fast, I was growing a bit cranky since the technician kept me waiting for 40 minutes. There I sat coffee-less, with a growing headache, having been up for more than 5 hours already. When I noticed a bit of steam coming out of my flaring nostrils, I sat up straight and said aloud, "I choose peace." As Steven Covey says, "Between the stimulus and the response there is always choice." Sometimes, we aren’t causing or attracting the pace of life that sweeps us away. Sometimes, "shift happens". The thing is, we can choose to hold onto a virtue as a life-raft, and ride those waves rather than merely drowning. What do you choose today?