My times are in thy hand. —Psalm 31:15 (KJV)
I stopped at the foot of the stairs and set down the vacuum. I’d been running up and down, getting a bedroom ready for guests. The phone had rung nonstop, the breakfast dishes were still on the table, and none of this was getting that writing assignment done. It was time for a minute vacation. I stuck a CD into the player, dropped into a chair, put my head back, and for a moment let Gregorian chant transport me to an unhurried world.
I discovered the wisdom of these brief getaways when my husband and I were on an actual vacation. In the Florida panhandle, we had stopped for the night at a motel set in a grove of ancient live oaks. Printed on the breakfast menu of the adjoining restaurant we noticed “The Oaks Prayer for Today”:
“Slow me down, Lord. Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind…. Teach me the art of taking minute vacations: of slowing down to look at seashells, to chat with a friend, to pet a dog…. Let me look up into the towering oaks and know they grew great and strong because they grew slowly and well.”
Minute vacations–could I really recapture, in the workaday world, the release of pressure we felt on that rambling, no-special-destination car trip? For a few days we really were stopping to look at seashells and make friends with playful dogs. I copied down the prayer and, back home, set out to experiment.
A two-minute stretching exercise turned out to be a quick way to relax. So did a stroll around the yard. Or a few minutes with a crossword puzzle. I developed a score of instant escapes, like preparing a cup of Lapsang Souchong tea with my best china, or opening a photo album and spending a moment in another time and place.
It isn’t only the minute vacation, I’m finding, that’s different. To stop, to step aside, to lay down–even for a moment–the pressures to achieve is to see all the other minutes in a new way, to receive time itself as a daily blessing.
Lord, teach me to walk today in Your unhurried steps.