We live in a time in a time of easy fulfillment and a lack of want, a microwave culture. We throw a block of some frozen food in a box, press a button, and a few minutes later we have dinner. It is cheap and easy to get what we want. We could have it in excess if we chose. We are a glutinous people with love for cheap thrills.
I do not mean to set myself above this culture, I partake in this easy come, easy go mentality more often that I’d care to admit. If nothing else, my beltline can attest to this, and yet, I know there must be a better way, a more consistent, joy-filled and peaceful way.
The other night, I was discussing Robert Farrar Capon’s The Supper of the Lamb. The reality is, I had forgotten to read the chapters we were on, but we got on to talking about enjoying, or even delighting in little things, and how little we do of it. One person brought up the crafting of a beautiful dinner, how small each serving is at a fine food restaurant.
Our tendency is to want more and more. Yet, the more we get, the more ravenous we become. We struggle to be satisfied with the little we have. When we don’t get everything we want, our craving grows greater for the bounty we can’t have. Our culture tells us when we have the most expensive thing, the best item, the most possession, we have finally made it. Yet, we will always be running to catch up with someone, running after another empty hope.
As I listened to my acquaintance talk of fine dining, I thought of my limited experience with it. Everything was done to perfection, and the experience was less a feeding trough and more an elaborate dance. The portions were small, yet what seemed to be a tiny morsel was more fulfilling than a huge, cheap hamburger. It was satisfying
We weren’t created to rush, and so our hearts want to take our time to enjoy each little thing we’re given, we’ll find that they are more fulfilling, more wonderful than we initially thought. The fact is as Americans and Christians, we don’t need more, we need to enjoy what we have more. We need to enjoy the silent pauses and each little gift for what it is.
On Friday, I had to be in West Asheville. There’s a little donut shop I’ve wanted to try. Once I wrapped up my responsibilities I decided to try to enjoy this, to take pause and savor each bite. Instead of stuffing a whole donut into my mouth I wanted to slowly enjoy the experience.
I had never been there, and I found that I was surprisingly excited, both to experience the quaint little shop and to try out my little experiment.
The lady at the counter greeted me and asked me what I’d like.
Unlike other donut shops, there weren’t racks and racks of donuts there to choose from and being late in the day I worried I’d missed my opportunity. “I would like a donut please.” She listed off four choices, not 10 or 30 or infinity, just four. We chatted about each one of them, and I settled on some fruity sounding donut that had “Tequila” in the name.
It was only after I’d ordered and watched her spell my name “Eian” that realized they were going to fry a fresh donut just for me and glaze it moments before they gave it to me.
I didn’t walk away from the counter holding a donut. Instead, I had to wait. I sat down at an old table with flaking paint. A few minutes later I took my first bite into the donut. It was fresh, hot, and delicious. I wanted to gluttonously stuff the entire thing into my mouth.
A week or so ago I got really stressed and clenched my jaw in my sleep and strained the muscles. It still aches, so I can’t open it fully without pain. This obnoxious pain was a tender grace that forced me to slow down, that let me enjoy the donut slowly, not ravenously.
I think I can safely say that it was the best donut I have ever had. Each bite was fluffy, fried, flavorful. Yet when I was done, I didn’t want six more, I was satisfied, and I allowed myself to be satisfied.
I didn’t achieve some huge moral victory over gluttony, later I would overeat something else, but for a moment, I just enjoyed the occasion, each bite.
There’s a short movie called “Godspeed,” which is a little meditation on going slow. If you haven’t watched it, I commend it to you. It reminds us how going slow isn’t the end but that in going slow we are able to reignite relationships. When we go slow, we get to know God, our neighbors and ourselves.
It is easy to rush through life and not enjoy these little moments, to miss every blessing that comes upon us.
The importance of this was hit home a few weeks ago when I visited a 90-year old parishioner who had been homebound for a couple of months. I brought her communion, and we sat and chat. Previously, when I had brought her communion, it had been a meandering affair through the lessons and prayers.
This time communion was quicker paced, but then we sat, and we chatted, and time slid by mysteriously. It was almost as though we entered into a time warp as we talked of heartache and joy, we laughed and shared past follies. It may very well have been better for my soul than hers.
As it became time for me to move on, she looked at me and said: “when was the last time you just sat and talked for several hours.” It had been more recently than she’d expected, but the reality is that wasn’t recently enough. Her parting advice was: “take your time.”
The average walking speed is a little over three miles per an hour. We weren’t created to move as fast as we do today, we weren’t created to cram so much into our lives. Culturally, and personally, we need to slow down and learn to enjoy each moment we are given. Seconds aren’t given lightly, they are precious gifts.
Life is not cheap; instead, we are to savored it, delight in the intimate details. Perhaps in learning to go slow, we’ll come to appreciate the little gifts we’ve been given.
This weekend, take a few hours to sit awhile with someone, with no screens, with no distractions and just enjoy them, whether it be a friend, or a spouse or a child. Delight in their laughter, cry with them, joke with them. Chances are their souls need it as much as you do.
Take some time to delight in something small also a flower, a delicate pastry, a beautiful bug or bird. Take in each little detail, the bird’s gentle song, or the glimmering of the bugs exoskeleton, the flakiness of the pastry, the flowers intricate design.
When we take these moments, our souls can finally slow down, and we can see the fingerprints of God, whether it be his handiwork in his creation or His image in humanity.
The delicate moments of joy refresh and bless our souls, they give us a taste of the things to come. So enjoy these modest occasions of goodness.