Thursday, 19 November 2009

Some Things Take Time.

I’m in a good place right now. The sun is shining outside and it’s after 5pm; it’s cold out there. But I’m inside, snug and warm, sometimes too warm. I have all the things I need to live in this tiny place for a few more days without leaving, if it comes to that. But I hope I can venture out tomorrow. We will see. Okay, I will come clean. I’m one of the victims of a silent and invisible predator, but once it lands silence is the last thing you hear and feel because you’re coughing, sneezing, and wheezing all out of key. There is no three-part har-mo-ny, anywhere. (Did you catch that rhyme? Trying to write a new song.) Then you become a hypocrite because first you’re hot and then you’re not, and you cannot make up your mind which side to lie on in the bed or to keep the covers on or off of you instead. (hmmm, a little bit wordy don’t you think?) You’re hungry but you don’t feel like eating because your throat and chest hurt from all the coughing, and you’re too tired to even hold up your head.

Oh, the heavy head. Yes full of congestion, so you try to b-r-e-a-t-h-e, “respirer” en Francaise. (Now that’s the hook. Whatcha think?) No, this is not the H1N1 taking vengeance on me because I made a joke about it in a past blog, for I don’t have the pain in the arms and legs, and I did have a fever from time to time. Thank God for fevers! Why do we fight them when they are the body’s signal that something needs to get out, and quick!? This is a subject for another time but some things don’t need to be fought but “caught”, studied and understood. Like fish. Remember that the next time you or a loved one encounters a fever. Catch and eat fish!! LOL!! Seriously moving on.

It’s taking me longer than usual to type my thoughts because I’m tired and coughing sometimes, chasing my nose . . . you know all about it because you too have either been tackled recently, or someone close to you has been run over and you’re helping them to repair Humpty Dumpty’s shell. I guess sometimes, some things take time. Even the things we usually take for granted, moment to moment, day after day, etc. eventually encounter road blocks or stop signs where there haven’t been any in the past. We’re taken by surprise and even sometimes angered because it usually happens at a time when we’re on our proverbial role, or roll (both are correct if you expand your mind) and we don’t expect to be stopped by an “officer”.

“Excuse me sir, but what laws did I break?” “None ma’am.” “Then why are you stopping me?” “Because you’re just merrily rolling along, not looking to the left and right, not enjoying the scenery, the countryside, the journey, those in the ‘vehicle’ with you. You’re just focused on where YOU’RE going and what YOU have to DO each and every day, and not only are you rolling along, so is time, so is your life. So we decided to arrest you to help you refocus, adjust your route, your speed – even though you were ‘driving’ (or were you being driven?) the speed limit you were using the ‘cruise’ feature, assuming all was well and going ‘your way’.”

“Yes officer, but that’s not illegal. It’s there to make ‘driving’ ‘easier”. Surely you cannot fault me for using this built-in feature from time to time.” “No ma’am, we don’t fault you for using it from time to time, but we noticed that you use it all of the time. So sometimes we stop people and give them a warning to slow down, other times we stop them and write up a ticket. But in some cases we find it necessary to stop and arrest them, handcuffs and all, and confiscate their ‘vehicle’ for a time until they get ‘rehabilitated’. Ma’am, you fit the third category. Please park your ‘vehicle’ and come with me.”

Hmmm, sounds like that might be a good story, but I will stop here because I think you get the picture. Sometimes we are just doing our thing whether it’s working well or not working at all. We stop long enough to fill the “tank” with petrol but usually neglect the tires, the engine, the fan belt, all those things we cannot see and don’t care to see and names we don’t know, and don’t want to be acquainted with. We just want “them” to “work” for us and keep us going.

Cars are not the only things we treat this way. We treat our bodies, our relationships, our employees and coworkers the same way. We don’t know the names of our hidden body parts and we don’t take the time to learn them and why they even exist inside of us. Yet each day, no matter what we do or don’t do, to, with or against our bodies, we expect them to work for us 24-7 and not break down.

Sometimes our friendships, marriages, parent-child relationships experience “cruise” times, more on than off, and after many miles and states covered then we notice Janie is no longer sleeping in her bed because we didn’t realize she wasn’t in the car two days ago, two states away.

Employers many times don’t know the names of their employees because they’re too far up the totem pole (sorry, “corporate ladder” for the politically correct. They just take away all the good fun.) to deal with the pawns below. Sorry, but that’s the way it feels “down here”. I’ve been down and half-way up and everything rolls down hill. Anyhoooo, they’re “hidden” and don’t need to be seen. Just put out the product and get your paycheck and go home and be happy you have a job. And be grateful you got the benefits you do have, even if there are none, because others would love to have what you don’t have either. Hmmm. Some things take time.

The past five years of my life have seen the most life changes in quantity and quality than I can remember in any other time of my life. Yet it is during these years that I have learned to appreciate time more than ever before. Yes, part of it is because I am older and still have not accomplished dreams and goals I thought would be a good 15 years old by now. I was burning the candle at both ends on the calendars and clocks of my life to “just do it” as Type A personalities like to live by. But I was using more time than I was saving because I did not want to stop to smell the roses, kiss the babies along the way, pet the dogs, or to sharpen my saw. I read a story earlier this year, whether based on facts or not, you will see how “truthful” and applicable to real life it is. (I don’t know the author, but if you do, please send me the name so I can do the right thing. Thanks.)

There were two lumber jacks working in the same vicinity. The older one used an axe all of his life and career and saw no reason to change. But when the younger guy saw him with the axe he kind of ridiculed him saying there was no way he would chop down that great big tree and split it faster than he would with the chain saw. The older man just humbly smiled at him and prepared himself and his axe to get to work.

So they both began to work on their trees. You could hear the chopping of the axe and the buzzing of the chainsaw at the same time, but every so often you would only hear the chainsaw. Then after 15 or 20 minutes you would hear the chopping in the background with the buzzing. Then sometimes you would hear only the chopping for a few minutes, then the buzzing would resume.

Finally at the end of the day both trees were down, but the older man’s tree had been split into log-sized pieces, while the younger man’s tree was still in huge chunks. The young man approached the older man and said disbelievingly “how were you able to do all of that with that axe, while I was using a chainsaw and I still have much to do? You kept stopping and taking breaks, but I kept working, only stopping to put gasoline in the chainsaw. Tell me old man, how did you do it?” The older man sat down, grabbed his water bottle, wiped the sweat from his face and patiently, and quietly responded, “I stopped to whet and sharpen my axe.” The young man never stopped to sharpen the blade of his chainsaw.

Most of us alive now have been raised in, or are just intimately acquainted with “fast lane” and “fast food” living. We live in the era where from corporations on down to dog houses in the back yard “faster and longer is better”. We believe that if we stop for anything, or stop too many times we will lose time and momentum, we will lose our edge, we will lose our spot or our place in line, our opportunity, our prize, etc. blah blah blah and yada. Everything must be done NOW and FAST and keep it moving, don’t stop. Yeah, it takes time to sharpen your axe, but it takes more time and energy to struggle with a dull chainsaw.

One of the Proverbs, chapter 27:17 in the Bible (NKJV) says, "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance (character/personality) of his friend." Real change and progress in all parts of life can only happen when we take the time to deal with ourselves face-to-face, and sometimes in the face of safe friends. (Be careful with the bisous-bisous at this time, please.)

Sometimes we don’t take time to look others in their face, or eyes to say "hello" or "goodbye", to ask “are you okay?” or “what’s your name?” or “are you going my way”? or “can I give you a lift”? or “can I give you a hand?” or "have a great day!" and on and on. Why not? Because this takes time, something we don't seem to have enough of? And I’m talking about with family and friends. Strangers don’t stand a chance. (Or do they? Hmmm, that’s a thought for another time.)

Living in Paris I’m surrounded by an unbelievable paradox and yes, here it is, I’m going to explain it as I see it and have experienced it. On the one hand, or both hands comme tu veut, you run into (no they run into you) impatient people running to get here and there, everywhere and nowhere, chasing trains like dogs chase cars, running through the metro quais like herds of cattle, and yes, that’s what I call them. You can hear it in their feet on the pavement and then the “whoosh” as they pass by you if you’re fortunate not to get thrown down, or caught up in the fray. The only thing I’ve not yet heard is the “mooow” and “Hello, I’m Mr. Ed”. Head ‘em up and move ‘em out!!! I usually slow down my pace and let them pass, and sometimes I pull my “vehicle” off to the side until all the Rushians ;-) pass by. Occasionally I’ve thought out loud to myself “who let the dogs out” when some humans start barking at and biting one another. But still, some things take time.

Then on the other hand, once that impatient person makes it to the front of "the line" (whatever line that may be), they want to stand there and take up all the time discussing current events and dog food with the cashier while everyone behind him/her now waits on him or her to move on. It seems impatient people have no problem making others wait. France is like that. Very impatient driving and running here and there, but they want to sit and talk about nothing all night long, and smoke cigarettes, and keep you waiting, which takes time. You figure them out.

Trying to become well and whole physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and financially – they all take time, and guess what? We can either give the time willingly, voluntarily, and cooperatively, or we can wait for the “life’s accidents police” to come and arrest us. But either way, time is going to be “taken”. As I stay in this tiny flat and deal with the coughing and hacking, etc. mostly by lying down and breathing and sleeping, I notice that my body more easily and readily surrenders the fluids sitting inside my lungs having a tete-a-tete at my expense. But this takes time.

I have no voice with which to sing, or to even speak well. I have no desire to travel in a car, train, plane, bus, box with or without a fox. I have no desire to put on my public persona, which is the same me, but just with clothing on. LOL!! I had to cancel myself from two paid engagements with no insurance to cover what I am missing and no backup. Hmmm, years ago I was very nervous of missing work even with insurance and backup, but now I realize, what’s the use? I cannot recover by lying here being nervous and afraid because I’m ill in my body. My primary relationship – the one I have with myself inside this body – takes time. And if I refuse to enjoy the journey with me and take care of me, I will have nothing to give to anyone else, and I will be a poor testimony to the love of God for me. I won’t even have me to give to me to live out my dreams.

It takes time to learn how to love yourself like God loves you, but when you do, you are really available to love others, because then and only then, (and not before) you will really see them as the special people God created them to be. Because you will know by experience what it means to be special. The same hands and feet God uses to love others through you are the same ones He will use to love you first – you! I learn how to touch you by touching myself. I learn how to “feed” you by feeding myself. I learn how to serve you, by serving myself. I learn how to forgive you, by forgiving myself. I practice on myself and learn what works and what doesn’t, but under the watchful and loving eyes and care of a Holy and wonderful God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Practice makes perfect, whether you practice it wrong or right. It will be perfectly wrong, or perfectly right. :-)

The most important things in life take time, and so do all the other non-essentials we’re convinced we must engage in. We must decide now, or later when we will “serve time”, but we must remember, we will make or take the time. Otherwise, time will make us, and then take us. Let’s get it right.