By Barbara Brown Taylor
For years I had kept hoping that intimacy with God would blossom as soon as I got everything done, got everyone settled, got my environment just right and my calendar cleared. I counted on it to come as a reward for how hard I had worked, or at least as the built-in consequence of a life of service, but even when I managed to meet all of my conditions for a day or two, I was so exhausted from the effort that I could not keep my eyes open. Slumber spirituality took over, and when I woke up I was right back where I started with miles to go toward the home I never quite reached.
Soon after I moved to the country, a friend from the city set out to see me and got seriously lost. These were the days before cell phones, so she was on her own with nothing but my directions and a badly out-of-date map. Already an hour later than she wanted to be, she was speeding through a little town when she saw the blue lights in her rearview mirror.I forgot to warn her that it was a speed trap. Busted, she pulled over on the shoulder of the road and had her license ready when the officer arrived at her window.
“I am so sorry,” she said, handing it to him along with her registration. “I know I was speeding, but I’ve been lost for the last forty minutes and I cannot find Tower Terrace anywhere on this map.”
“Well, I’m sorry about that too, ma’am,” he said, writing up her citation, “but what made you think that hurrying would help you find your way?”
What made any of us think that the place we are trying to reach is far, far ahead of us somewhere and that the only way to get there is to run until we drop? For Christians, at least part of the answer is that many of us have been taught to think of God’s kingdom as something outside ourselves, for which we must search as a merchant searches for the pearl of great price.
what made you think that
would help you
find your way?
But even that points to a larger and more enduring human problem, which is the problem of mortality. With a limited number of years to do whatever it is that we are supposed to be doing here, who has time to stop?
Barbara Brown Taylor is a writer and teacher at Piedmont College in Georgia. She was ordained an Episcopal priest and writes about the life of the church—and the church of life. This excerpt is from her book called Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith.
I think the real question is not "How can I afford to take time to stop?" but instead "If The Master has ordained the sun two times every year to stand still, how can I afford not to follow the example set in the heavens for all to see?"