This morning, I had a thought during breakfast. I sliced up a juicy, delicious orange, and made two slices of cinnamon raisin toast (with butter, obviously). I carefully selected a pretty coffee cup (the Florida one from the “You Are Here” Starbucks collection; it has pretty happy pinks, blues, and yellows on it- defiantly springy on this midwest winter morning), poured it with the happy, steaming goodness and some half & half, and sat down to feast.
Then, like 5 seconds later, it was all gone. The next to last bite of toast was halfway to my mouth and I looked down thinking, “I was so excited to eat this! Why didn’t I slow down???” So, of course, I worked really hard to savor those last two bites. Why am I telling you about this? Because this is what I so often do. I hurry to savor. Which doesn’t really work, by the way.
We just finished Christmas time, the time of year where this hurrying shows itself most clearly- at least in my life. I get so excited for Christmas starting in about… October, even though I absolutely ADORE fall. The problem is, I get excited for fall starting in, say, August. So, in my mind it’s already been 2 months of fall, which it hasn’t really; it’s been hot, uncomfortable, and frustrating as I try to start wearing boots and scarves, and my feet and neck cry out in objection to the heat.
I’m just so afraid of missing the autumn-y goodness (plus I sort of despise August- it’s not relaxing like summer, it’s just hot and gross and school starts and there’s just general discomfort everywhere), that I try to force it 2 months early. Then it just happens all over again with Christmas. I try to resist listening to Christmas music (but fail) in- yup- October, though at least it’s gradual, not a straight break from all other music. Also, it’s not what most people probably think of as Christmas music… see here and here what I mean.
By the time December actually gets here, sometimes I’m almost tired of Christmas already! Or it lacks the sparkle and delight that it held for me only a month or two ago. What does this have to do with my toast? Well, I think it just shows my shoddy, and wholly underdeveloped skill of living in the moment. I shovel it down- not because I’m just so ravenous (though of course sometimes that’s true- especially because I’m pregnant right now), but as though someone will sneak up and snatch it before I can take a bite.
This is nonsense, and yet I find myself treating so many moments this way- like Gollum with his precious Ring (though hopefully less creepy)- I snarl at any perceived threat to what’s precious and good in my life, even if I’m about to receive something better. And I’m fully aware that it’s not how Jesus intended me to live.
Have you ever heard someone say, “Today is a gift; that’s why they call it the present…?” (Who said that? I can’t remember…) Well, if that’s true, I tear through it like an over-stimulated child tearing through Christmas morning- you know, the kid who’s received so many gifts at this point that they are numbed to the whole process, and sometimes make not-so-hallmark-worthy comments about getting clothes or socks. One of my deep desires for 2014 is to live more the opposite- to live in wonder of this moment. Now. With you and me and God.
So, I sit down, preparing to eat my delicious morsels and enjoy how well cinnamon raisin toast goes with coffee (it’s so perfect!), and then I completely bludgeon the moment to death like a bull in a china shop. I look down like that kid on Christmas morning- “Is there any more for me? No? Lame…” Yet, I so long to savor the moments given me. “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom,” says the psalmist in Psalm 90:12. Is that what he meant? Because that’s exactly my desire. I want desperately to soak up and savor this life, this moment, even the letters I’m typing now. Aren’t they each a gift? This is what one of my favorite authors and bloggers, Ann Voskamp, writes so eloquently about- see what I mean?
All of humanity, we’re so desperate for living full lives, living in abundance, in joy, that we can squelch any chance it has of fanning into flame by our smothering grasps. It’s a double-edged sword, this pursuit of beauty- of real, fulfilling, glorious, life-giving beauty- something to make sense out of the senseless, to bring chaos into order by numbering each moment. Counting each gift is our only option to continue receiving grace- which is abundant life- what God promises. Yet, if we don’t slow in the moment enough to receive the grace God has hidden there for us, we end up with clenched fists, and cries of “Mine!” and no real joy at all.
So, next time, I will savor my coffee and orange and toast. Each color, swirl of steam, gush of fresh juice, and buttery bite. And I will number them in my mind- this blessing, and this one. I will not snarf it down as though afraid someone will snatch it from me at the last second. I will slow- and see the simple beauty of breakfast, taste a little feast, remembering God’s hand holds this out in every moment. Today, I open my hands and receive… And I might have toast for lunch too.
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.