Sitting in the local Starbucks doing schoolwork, and I noticed a gentlemen who just pulled into the parking lot, lifting a large wheelchair from his trunk. He has my attention. Within minutes, he wheels in an elderly woman who I guess must be his mother. He is playful and kind in spirit, filled with respect and patience as he suggests possible menu items for her to consider. Listening to their conversation is priceless. I’m guessing she has some form of dementia, since much of her chatter is difficult to parse out. She is mostly apologizing for eating so slowly, but he is so gentle and reassuring that they have all the time in the world. What a precious moment to behold, and a beautiful sentiment to dwell in.
All the time in the world.
To connect. To enjoy. To be together. I was the lucky fly on the wall, sitting at the table behind them.
Earlier this morning, I was on a different wall. Instead of coffeehouse colleagues, I was surrounded by followers of faith, in our local congregation. While listening to the pastor’s sermon, I was scribbling several thoughts. I’m always struck by the counter-intuitiveness of the scriptures. How death to self leads to life. How walking into our weakness leads to strength. How faith is forged through blindness. He also discussed various illusions of control we can have in our lives, how we can trust in God with our eternity, but not necessarily trust him with our future. So true.
As usual, my mind also wandered to word play. As the pastor delved into the topic of our faith, I was rolling around various contexts of leaping, and the joy I feel in this simple, childlike gesture. As a trail runner, I love leaping in the forest, whether it is over tree roots, streams, logs, or bounding up and down hills. I love leaping over the mud, wondering if I can clear the muck without sliding, or at least spraying my legs and shoes with splotches of black goo. I relish the challenge of jumping, hoping my leaps will reach far enough, or high enough, to clear obstacles. Or looking for new areas to leap into, sometimes blindly turning to head down new paths in hopes of a fresh adventure. And on my longer runs, I enjoy stopping frequently, to jump repeatedly on to a bench, a log, a small wall, or some other perch, in an effort to strengthen my core. There is a masochistic pleasure in testing my stamina, concentrating on coercing my tired, shaking legs, successfully over the hurdle each time.
Lastly my thoughts reflected on the many layers we all have. I recalled a message from years ago, when the pastor revealed that when he wants to know how someone is doing, he makes sure to ask multiple times.
“How are you?” To which the person usually responds, “I’m doing good.”
“How are you, really?” Now the person pauses, but usually answers similarly “Overall, I’m ok.”
“Really, how are you?” Here the person stops and reflects, trusting that the person asking has a genuine concern to know beyond a merely superficial answer.
Because when we really want to know how someone is doing, we need to make the time to communicate and connect. We want to assure them that we are ready to leap into the mire with them, or gently listen while they collect their scattered thoughts. We want to assure them that all of their layers are fearfully and wonderfully made, and that for them, we have “all the time in the world.”