Take your time and expect them to take theirs. Be very tolerant. Be as undemanding as you can. This slow tempo will help the contemplative side of your life: but if you get in a frenzy and want quick results, you will run into spiritual disaster. I repeat, disaster.Thomas Merton, Seeds of Destruction, letter to a Papal Volunteer leaving for Brazil
Early yesterday morning I shopped at a warehouse store during their senior citizen hour. Yikes — yes — I qualify as a senior. I thought it would be a zip-zap-zoom trip. Nobody else would be there so I could grab my things and get home pretty quickly.
I was wrong.
It turns out that senior citizen hour at a warehouse store means that most of the shoppers are driving their shopping carts instead pushing them.
They drive slowly.
Down the middle of the aisle.
And stop frequently.
Zip-zap-zoom turned into wait-wait-wait.
I remembered taking my father to Target in past few years and he tried to drive one of those carts. I guess it’s not as easy as it looks.
I laughed when I read Thomas Merton this morning. He was writing to a volunteer heading to Brazil in the early 1960s. The different country, the different culture — it fit so perfectly with my shopping expedition. The slow tempo did indeed help the contemplative side of my life. I paused and listened to the Christmas music playing in the store. I prayed for patience when I realized that those one-way arrows on the floor don’t apply during senior hour. I prayed for a shopper who was struggling and short-tempered. I helped someone find something.
The warehouse store may not have been Brazil but it was another world.
What is Christmas, though, if not a venture into another world? The ultimate venture.
Lord, let me take my time and be tolerant,
not just at Christmas, but all the time.
Christmas is a good season to begin.
The world feels disastrous enough.
I don’t need to add to it.