The thought of pressing pause came to me following a discussion last week with someone we were working with. Some glitches had arisen; we wanted to find a way through; it was decided to pause, take stock and re-group..
The verb to pause is lovely, full of meaning and gentleness. It’s not harsh and confrontational like stop or cancel; it speaks of a desire to engage and find the right solutions.
One of its meanings is ’to create space for change’. Right now I need to pause, take stock, and create space for change.
As the pandemic eases we’re slowly and painfully emerging from months of being shut in. We’ve all experienced this in different ways. Many have experienced hardship; people have lost jobs, businesses and money, children have suffered in many different ways; loneliness has increased; drinking and comfort eating up; loved ones separated.
On the other hand there are quite a few of us who have enjoyed at least some of the experience of being shut away. We didn’t have jobs to go to, but we were still caught up, like so many, in the rush and bustle of our daily existence. Suddenly we couldn’t go to the cinema, we couldn’t visit friends, and even when we could we risked hypothermia. We couldn’t drop into the coffee shop on the way back from the supermarket. We had to stop pretty much everything and in some ways we found the experience welcome.
For all of us, however we found it, our lives will never be the same. But how will it never be the same? What will change? The question I’m asking myself and you might do the same gentle reader is how will things be different?
Can I encourage you in the coming weeks to press the pause button. I want to pause, to create that space for change I just mentioned. How do I go about this? Is it slowing down, or stopping even? Is it in the silence of a retreat? A retreat is certainly one way of pausing. Thoreau talked about the value of living with a broad margin of leisure. ‘Observe the hours of the universe’ he said, rather than keep pace with the daily rushing around that we endure.
You may not be able to manage each day with a wide margin; start then by giving yourself a tiny margin. Baby steps. Pause to sit quietly, touch a tree, enjoy a flower, a leaf, a bud breaking out, a bird singing, a buzzard hovering. As a bee brings nectar to the hive, these pauses will help us re-centre our lives. These tiny pauses will bring honey into our lives, We could discover the beauty of silence and stillness changing us, helping us assess what’s important and what isn’t. We might start to hear different sounds, different tunes. Thoreau again:
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.“
Let’s then give some considered thought to how we plan to normalise our lives; it’s a golden opportunity for all of us to pause and re-centre ourselves and ‘observe the hours of the universe’.
Prayer for His help: “Lord I ask you to help me discern your presence in the challenges I face right now and in the coming days and weeks. Help me to find ways to create the space to evaluate and make good changes. Help me to understand that your loving presence is always close at hand. Help me to experience the power of your strengthening touch in my life and in the lives of those I love and care for. Help me know when to strike out to that different drum rather than go with the crowd.“