This morning I saw a petite, young girl walking to school with, what appeared to be, her older brother. Something about what she did caught my attention as I drove by. She picked a flower to examined and was smelling it. She stopped, dawdled and enjoyed while her older brother marched on ahead. With his backpack secured, he was on a mission. I thought about how important it is, at times, to stop, notice and enjoy. (Too often I can be the one on a mission) It makes me recall a song from long ago. “Stop and Smell the Roses.” (Link below)
Then I thought about my childhood summer days. I’d sit in the front yard, skinny legged, with my arms wrapped around bony knees touching, wearing shorts and a summer shirt or just my bathing suit. A sticky sweaty, mess because of the Iowa humidity. Beads of sweat making tracks down my temples. Yet I’d remain in the yard, in the heat to pick three-leaf clovers. I remember I really liked the bright green ones because they tasted sour. So I’d eat them. Or I’d find wide blades of the crab grass and put them between my thumbs like a reed to form a make-shift whistle. I’d blow and blow. It would make my lips tickle which caused me to giggle.
Sometimes I’d stop, lie on my back, arms behind my head to form a pillow and look up at the sky indefinitely. My sister, Joyce or my neighbor, Nancy and I would lie there gazing at the sky’s cloud formations. We’d find animals and other perceived images like faces in the clouds. It was a fun game that demanded one locate, show, and explain the image to the other person as quickly as possible. If too much time elapsed the moving clouds might alter the animal’s cloud shape beyond recognition. “Hey, you see that one? Look, look where I’m pointing. It kind of looks like a dragon! Don’t you think? See? There’s its neck and there’s its body and see the long tail? Do you see it?” This fun game could take minutes or hours, but it was always delightful just to take time to stop and play it.
Other times I would walk along the cooler, shaded sidewalks and find the seed pods hanging down from one neighbor’s tree. Those 6-8 inch long thin seeds littered the yard and had a deep purple/black color that looked like flattened bananas to me. I’d stop to gather them and let them dry to make my own musical shakers. Next, I’d find the helicopter seeds heavy laden on the sidewalk. It looked as if someone had just had tossed them like confetti or there was a recent ticker tape parade. Helicopter seeds everywhere! I’d stop, pick them up, throw them in the air and watch them float downward. Twirling and twirling and twirling until they landed. I was fascinated with the world and creation around me. Summertime had a slower pace and I never seemed to hurry. Maybe it was the power of the stop.
I watched that little girl today, I thought about the importance of slowing and even stopping. Should I stop more often too, I wondered. Let me ask you… Is there something you might need to stop doing so that you’ve saved enough time to do the stopping? (I’ve asked myself and now i’ll ask you too. Do you get caught doing things that seem to make your time evaporate?)
Later, mid-morning, I stopped in at a thrift store. Shocking, I know. I LOVE the thrill of the hunt. This is not atypical for me, but this particular store I don’t frequent often. I was in the area so I popped in for a few minutes before the predicted rain arrived. I stopped. I was delighted to see big green signs, 50% off all items. Yay! Yippee! Yahoo! I headed in for a quick look around. I was in the corner shoe section, just doing my thing. I checked out various sandals, tried on the cute ones in my size and held others in my hands because the floor became cluttered. Then I noticed a woman as she walked by. I wondered if I were in her way. As I looked up to allow her room to enter the area. She stopped. She said, “Hey, you’re that choir and worship leader lady at church!” She continued, “Thank you so much for leading us this past weekend. I really enjoy when you’re up there. I’m the lady that sits WAY in the back, but I sing very loudly. With all my heart! Sometimes I have to be a little quieter because the two young kids that sit in front of me turn around, like who IS that lady singing SO loudly? Anyway, I just want to thank you for using your gifts and want to tell how much you bless me every time I see you up there. You are really in your element, you’ve got this… Hmm? You just shine!”
I said, “Well, praise God! My name’s Rachel, tell me your name.” She told me, Mary. I thanked her for taking the time to stop and give me that word of encouragement. I reminded her one can never sing too loudly! We are just instructed to make and joyful noise. * We chatted a bit. She told me about her 20 plus years working in downtown Milwaukee. She talked about being a speech therapist, about some of her past students, about her grand children, about working with junior high students judging their speech contest last week. She continued to affirm me as a speaker. She was very kind and encouraging.**
I looked around the store a bit longer then purchased the shoes and a few other items.
As I reflected on the first part of my day, I thought about the importance of the stop. The little girl stopped, to pick the flower, “Smell the Roses” so to speak. And the woman stopped to give me a word of encouragement. Let me ask you…Is there somebody you might need to encourage? Maybe you need to stop, send a text, write a card, pick up the phone and tell someone how much they mean to you. Thank somebody. Perhaps you could encourage your kids or your husband or a coworker that sits near you. Maybe it’s something you THINK often, but don’t stop to say the words. Stop to let someone know that you think they’re doing a good job. Stop and mention that you’re thinking of them, praying for them or are grateful for them.
I had a sweet friend stop at my front door two days ago. I hadn’t see her in six months. She said she was running by my house training for a half marathon. It was a warm day. I gave her a glass of water. She just said, “ I should have stopped weeks ago. I just felt like I should knock on your door and see how you’re doing.” She sat legs crossed, on the cold slate tile of my entryway because she said it would help her cool down. Plus she thought she was too sweaty to sit on my couch. The stop of five minutes turned into a 20 minute-half hour. A serendipity in my day! As she shared her heart, she checked up on mine too. We laughed, shed a few tears and prayed together. All this blessing, all this kindness came from a friend who decided to stop. I know. Life can be such a rush. It can seem a blur.*** So, might I suggest you take some time today, just take a deep breath. Cease striving! And don’t forget the power of a stop.
( So sing out )
*Psalm 98:4 Make a joyful nose noise and the LORD, all the earth: Make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
( Encourage someone)
**1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just in fact you are doing.
(Stop along the way, life moves so fast)
***James 4:14b What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
http://youtu.be/9zLOPYr3Hn0 Mac Davis-“Stop and Smell the Roses” (Warning it’s an oldie but goodie!)