Slow

I try not to hurry.

At work, it can’t be helped. There are deadlines and patients that need seen and meetings. But when I get home…I do my best to slow.

It has not yet been a week since these feet sunk deep in loose sand along the edge of the world and I am already losing my balance.

I try not to hurry.

In the morning I sit at the glass table and drink my coffee. I see a monarch butterfly drinking from the milkweed in the meadow. The vibrant orange of his wings seem to flutter hope. I feel myself pulled forward.

Lucy Mae needs a walk and I need to walk her and we stand in the back yard quiet. She smells the grass, tastes the tender green. Something moves to the butterfly bush—so quickly that I know it must be a hummingbird. But it’s not. It’s a hummingbird moth and I watch, fascinated by the unfolding of the tongue that dips into narrow flower flute and the hum of wings…so unlike anything.

I’ve never seen one before.

But I know that it has to be. What else could it?

The moth is not afraid of me and it continues to drink nectar, flitting from one flower to the next, reaching with that long proboscis.

I close my eyes and listen to the whir of strange wings. When I open them he is gone.

Back inside, there is laundry and all the stuff of life. I’m back at the glass table trying to breathe when I look out at the bird feeder and see the sparrow. He is stuck—jammed between the square of lard and berries with his head through the suet holder, neck strangely bent and he is still. Too still.

I hurry.

I grab a stick and dig at the suet and I talk to him the whole of the time.

How did you get here? I ask. What in the world were you thinking?

And then:

Please don’t be dead.

He doesn’t move when I wrap my hands around his body, cup wings soft and gently pull his head out of the wire—out of danger. My heart is heavy.

I’m afraid to think of what to do with a dead sparrow and doesn’t the Lord know when each one falls?

His body is limp but I see his foot twitch.

I set him on the wooden deck above me and immediately he flies. The relief is so sudden that I cry.

He didn’t even say thank you.

I can’t stop thinking about this one patient—the young one—and his mother and everything about his story. It weighs me down so that moving slow is all I can do. I make a list of everything I need to do and slowly start checking them off—move from one to the next with my proboscis pen checking and rechecking.

The other day, one of my patients told me, Yesterday is history. Today is a mystery. And tomorrow is a gift.


What do you mean? I asked. Explain.

Her ebony skin shined in the sunlight coming through the window.

We can’t change what happened yesterday, she said. And today is not over yet…so anything can happen. And if we live to see tomorrow, what a gift that will be.

I laughed when she said it, but she was right. I think about her as I strain eyes for the sparrow, try to make sure he really is ok. She is unwrapping the gift. She is ok.

And me?

I’m trying not to hurry through the mystery of today. If I did I might miss monarch butterflies feasting on milkweed, hummingbird moths in all their glory, and a sparrow in need.

I try not to hurry. But sometimes I do. I grieve what I must miss on those days. What gifts do I overlook?

Will you slow down with me? Tell me what you see. I’d love to hear. Let’s unwrap the gifts together.

This is written for Emily’s Imperfect Prose on Thursdays. Join us?

Comments

  1. says

    You know Laura…I don’t work and we have no children at home…but I, too can still get caught up in hurry about life and miss love, beauty and His touch. So I make myself slow down when I take our dog out and even in the midst of the horribly dry, crunchy world I’m surrounded by I can find one flower blooming against the odds. And I LOVE to watch the young woman who lives with us come home from work and stop to play with Miss Molly…this girl who was afraid of dogs when she moved in has found peace through God’s perfect little play mate….it’s glorious to watch.

  2. says

    Slowing down is a big theme in my life (so big, in fact, I wrote a book about it!). You have modeled it for us in this post, sharing slow moments and the way your mind and heart unfolded because you chose to see, listen, respond.

    We need more of this–we need people to share their slow-down stories, reminding us that there are gears in which we can drive through life other than overdrive.

    I sat on the back porch with a friend this afternoon. We drank tea and caught up on our lives. We dreamed of moving far away to a place completely different, like Australia, and we celebrated the healing in one of her family members. And we laughed. And I realized my kids had spread popsicle sticks all over the porch while creating some sort of homemade game.

    Nothing as glorious as your sparrow reborn; just a little life together. But it was good.

  3. Melissa S says

    Thank you for the reminder to slow down. Yesterday is history indeed. Today is most definatly a mystery, and I look forward to the gift of tomorrow.

  4. says

    So beautiful. I recently went back to work after having my daughter and time is so packed right now. It’s all I can do some days to take a few minutes and notice the morning light and how it pours in the windows before things get crazy in the morning.

  5. says

    i need to slow, friend, and you capture it… on the wing of a butterfly, no less… and i know, God is working in us, his sabbath-rest… you write such beauty. thank you.

  6. says

    thank you for commenting on my grandbaby yearning…
    I just clicked over to your blog this morning…and see sooo much already, I need to come back when I’m not in such a ‘hurry’!?!?

    but I also am in West Virginia!
    (also with parents who divorced)
    But I have not written two books!?!?
    congratulations

    I thought what you wrote ‘about yourself’ on the amazon blurp was wonderful and thank God for bringing such good out of your own pain.
    I will definitely be purchasing the Klaio series for my niece who looovves to read…

  7. says

    What a beautiful post! Not sure how I got here – but love the fact that I did. I need to slow down and treasure the moments that are today – for too soon they fly away.

    Thanks for the encouragement to do so.
    Very well written!

  8. says

    Oh, Laura. This post is one I should print and set before me as a reminder. I enjoy activity (as you may have noticed), so to slow is something I forget that I need until the dizziness of my life creates stress instead of energy. In the last two years, I have learned to slow, but it continues to be a challenge. This week, thus far, has not been slow. Tonight…I will on purpose slow.
    Thank you.

  9. says

    I’m glad you waited and watched and saved that little sparrow. “And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.”

    It sounds as if there are many sparrows in your life. May you have grace to minister life to them. May you allow yourself the times of rest and refreshing so you can be filled to overflow life out to them again.

    (I sometimes watch and rescue the butterflies and dragonflies and birds that fly into my back porch and can’t make their way out again…)

  10. says

    My land, Laura, that was just beautiful, even if I have to pull out my dictionary for a lot of those big, fancy words.

    I reckon this is one of my favorites. And you know that silly bird? He was obviously doing too much at once.

    God uses your attentive heart to minister in more ways that one.

    Blessings.

  11. says

    This is why I walk. It slows me, sometimes better than sitting still.
    I love watching birds. It’s a great way to slow down, too.

    At points in my life, I think I’ve been like that sparrow. Caught, nearly crushed, then rescued and revived. There is One who delivers me from the snare of the fowler. He has done it again and again. (Psalm 91)

  12. says

    this is so beautiful laura…and such a desire in the lives of so many….to be present, to be in the moment. i hear it over and over…
    the moment is where god IS…that’s where he wants us, yet we are always somewhere else, and miss so much. i am working hard to be ever-present…
    thank you for your post..
    xo

  13. says

    WOW!!!!

    I’m so deeply moved by this powerful writing/sharing of your heart.

    I am with you on slowing it down dear sister. Lingering at the feet of Jesus…

    Love and prayers for you…

  14. says

    Wow, Laura, that is one amazing step into nature — a monarch, a hummingbird moth (we have many here…they sort of give me the creeps, actually!), and the rescued sparrow (alive, thank God; I was worried in those couple of sentences — I can’t imagine how YOU felt!).

    And that quote from your patient — amazing! I think I need to type it up and hang it over my desk (and heart).

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