pastoral/spiritual care

Someone Please Hit the Pause Button!

It was a cruel tease of nature back in January. The temperature soared up to the mid-70s, and I went fishing with my son on his favorite local spot – the Saluda River, which flows out of the Lake Murray dam and hovers around 55 degrees year round. He caught a trout. He “caught” and I went “fishing.” Already at his tender age of 18, he has surpassed me in fishing skill. Although it’s fun to catch fish, sometimes just fishing is fine with me. I’m getting too old to worry about catching them anymore. I am on board to have a good time and to relax. This particular January day made me yearn for warm, spring days where the temperature was daily in the 70s and 80s, with azaleas, dogwoods, and oak trees in full bloom. Yet it took 3 and ½ months for us to get to that, and the wait has been worth it. Let me say the wait has been long at times, too.

As the ancient writer says, “There is a time and season for everything.” Mother Nature cannot be speeded up, and getting in line with that rhythm is important. I wanted to speed up to the 80s of mid to early April in South Carolina, but that is not the way the world works. Nature and our physiological clocks have automatic timers. This is true as children grow through adolescence, and true even as middle aged adults grow older and become senior adults.  

Days like today (sunny and mid-80s) really make me want to hit the pause button on life’s clock. I wish I could do that. If I could, I would hit it today. I would stay today as the standard:  blooming azaleas, dogwoods, grass greening and a sense of new life everywhere. Pausing life is impossible. I wish it were not so. I wish life could go on and on with days like today. Yet, change happens and people deal with illness, disease processes and even death. Just two Sundays ago, Christians celebrated Easter.  It’s a day of hope and a day of remembrance. It’s a day where life triumphs over death. Nonetheless, death is still part of the story. Death still makes it into the pages of Holy Scripture. On the way to death, there is no big pause button. Yes, there are times when we can slow down the clock of life. We can slow it down to go fishing, to go to our place of worship, to attend birthdays and to enjoy sporting events. Those are times when it seems most natural to hit the pause button of life and to just soak it all in. 

On a very regular basis, I meet families who are struggling to make do in the ICU waiting areas of our hospital. I meet people who would be more than happy to hit the “fast forward button” of life. The days are long and the pain is real as loved ones hang in the balance of life and death. Surely these folks are not interested in pausing life. No, instead there is a hope that days will get better and “this too shall pass” becomes the prayer. 

In all of life there is no pause button and there is no fast-forward button. All we have is the present. I know that, but I also need a reminder. Time marches on. We can’t stop getting older, and we can’t stop our ultimate destiny of passing from life to death one day. Yet, there are times when we wish we could hit the pause or fast-forward button. Maybe the good and perfect days remind us that life can always be hopeful and full of destiny. The same is true for hard days. They help us appreciate the wonderful days even more. I am not sure where you are on your journey, but may the good days heavily outweigh the difficult. May the blooming flowers and azaleas of spring outnumber the dark and cloudy days of life (both in nature and metaphorically). I trust you appreciate the goodness of life and how precious it is. May goodness and mercy follow you always as you engage the “pause-button” moments and “fast-forward” moments in your life.

Dear God:  Thank you for times of abundance and times of joy. Help me to keep my heart and mind tuned to the all that is good in you, others, life, and me.  Amen. 

-- Chaplain George M. Rossi


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