One minute ago, the hygienist took my twin five-year-olds and six-year-old to the back room of the dentist office. The room with reclining chairs, bright lights, intimidating metal instruments and a basket of stickers for children who don’t scream and flail at the prospect of a teeth cleaning.
I have twenty-nine minutes. Twenty-nine quiet minutes to write, write, write this post before my children come blazing back into the waiting room filling every nook and cranny of my life with the sounds of theirs.
I must write. Because when we leave here, we will run to the mall to pick up a few things, make a quick deposit at the bank followed by a withdrawal of two gallons of milk and six loaves of bread at the grocery store, and a quick trip home for dinner and homework before I leave again at 7:00 pm to take my 15-year-old to youth group, during which I meet a friend for a (quick) cup of coffee.
By 9:30 pm, I will collapse on my bed, exhausted from a packed day but entirely unable to sleep.
Because of the caffeine. And all I need to do tomorrow.
Twenty-three minutes. I need to write.
Pressure. To-do’s. Chaos. You know what I’m talking about. These ordinary days moving at an extraordinary pace, during which we move, move, move and do, do, do. But rarely do we slow, let alone stop to breathe. Who has the time? Part of this comes with having a job, a husband and/or children, the responsibilities of a life filled with the lives of others, all of whom require our working, clothing, feeding and loving.
But we do more than provide clothes, food and love, don’t we? We do far more than is required for either living or loving. We pack our already-full lives with countless unnecessary to-do’s, task we accumulate like participation points, marks of significance and evidence of our merit. To slow or — heaven forbid — stop this frenetic life, we risk appearing lazy, unproductive, and (dare I say it?) selfish. Good people, worthy people, never stop moving, never stop giving themselves away, right? So we jump from one to-do to another, without a moment to sing with the radio or count the night’s stars.
Speaking of songs and stars, all this December musing leads me to a single, pregnant question:
If God had sent the infant Jesus this Christmas 2012, would I notice?
Would I see the heralding star in the sky? Would I hear the angels sing or receive a vision of his birth while I slept? Or would I, like the majority of Israel during the days of Caesar Augustus, miss it entirely?
A young Mary and Joseph did not miss him; neither did a field of shepherds and wise men from a different land. But many right next door never even knew the Son of God had come, never realized their spinning world stopped and time stood still, while the Earth welcomed the One who first set it on its axis.
I don’t want to miss Him. This Christmas, while the world moves, moves, moves, I don’t want to be running errands, checking off to-do’s, or counting minutes in my oh-so-full-days when Jesus comes. I want to be ready for him, but unhurried. Anticipating, but not overwhelmed. Enthusiastic, but entirely at peace.
I want my gaze lifted to the heavens and my heart signing a shepherd’s song. And so I’m doing only what’s required of living and loving, but little more. I’m slowing, occasionally even stopping. Because the life I truly want is the One and Only Life God gave:
The star and the song. Regardless of the minutes we have left.
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace … (Luke 2:14)