I’ve come across the words Stop, Look, Listen! a couple of times this week. This phrase takes me back to a simpler time, when I was very small, and I can still hear my Mother saying those words to me at the corner of our street, because she loved me and wanted to protect me from being hit by a car. It was a time of Peter Rabbit (a book my Mother read to me), and Dick and Jane (characters in the books that I first read by myself). That’s when it began, ‘run, Dick, run’. Move fast, try to get it all done, multitask, achieve, over-achieve.
STOP! The world has stopped these days of the corona virus. We are sheltered in place, staying at home, stores are closed. Some are in place alone, some with families with little ones, some with parents, some with our spouses. Maybe for the first time in a long time, or ever, we are in our own company with just me and my shadow. Amidst the confusion of the times, with the news on the TV in the background that is talking about lives lost, those who are afflicted with the virus, listening to statistics and numbers, it creates a heightened sense of fear or anxiety deep within us. In our minds, we escape the present, and leap into the future with anxious thoughts and live there for a while with ‘what ifs’ happen. Other times we look to the past, and relive conversations and actions and think ‘if only I would have, could have, should have’. STOP!
LOOK! Let’s look where we are, in this very moment. Jesus said to his followers “come with me to a quiet place and get some rest”. What does that mean? To me, it is a place of solitude, being transported in my mind to a place where there is a lake, or in the mountains, or by the ocean, to a quiet place. Its peaceful and beautiful. It reminds me of going to camp, and I would walk in the woods alone, totally content to explore with a stick, see little animals, insects, investigate different flowers and leaves. ‘When through the woods and forest glades I wander, and hear the birds sing sweetly from the trees. When I look down, from lofty mountains grandeur, and see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.” It’s in those moments, those places where we’re emotionally moved from fear and worry to a place of peace in our souls. We can turn our eye toward a harmony within ourselves, a refreshment within us. We can notice a butterfly perched on a flower, a red bird on the tree branch, the smile in the eye of a child, the smell of freshly baked cookies, the touch of someone dear to us, a wink from someone we love. It’s in those moments where the most meaningful part of life resides. It’s here where the snapshots of memories are taken.
LISTEN! My Mom would tell me to listen for cars as I was outside playing, to ‘keep an ear out’, to pay attention to my surroundings, because she loved me. I was to make sure I heard the 4:00 p.m. whistle that blew from the steel mill in the outskirts of town. The expectation was when I heard that, it was time to come home and get cleaned up for supper. When she said to ‘listen’ to me, she also meant to heed what she said, to obey, or to listen to her, because she loved me. In these days of uncertainty, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” because He loves us.
At this time of the world stopping, we have a chance to restart, reboot, reprioritize, or to ‘rinse and repeat’ our lives. It will all be okay, we will be okay, we will come back from this. I heard a phrase the other day from Rev. Adam Hamilton, ‘the worst thing is never the last thing’ – I love that!
Take this opportunity to STOP, LOOK, LISTEN… what do you see and hear?