One morning last summer my youngest ones and I lingered in a sunny field crowned with butterflies. Armed with nets and tight-lipped determination, my children dashed after the flitting beauties with hopes of catching a few new residents for our small butterfly house.
My zealous hunters bounded through wild flowers and swiped madly at the sultry summer sky. They chased every flash of color with reckless abandon until they’d spun circles in the tall grass. From my vantage point on the field’s perimeter, I could see a splattering of wings perched soundlessly on the wildflowers. But my children, in their hurry, raced past the very treasures they sought. I studied their rushing feet and beheld a picture of my own frantic life.
A wise woman’s observation hung heavy in my mind: On every level of life, from housework to heights of prayer, in all judgment and efforts to get things done, hurry and impatience are sure marks of the amateur. (Evelyn Underhill, quoted in 1000 Gifts).
A beautiful monarch soared above a patch of golden blooms and alighted gracefully upon a delicate flower. Hannah clapped her hands in anticipation and hollered to her brother. “Look at that one!” Hurry! Get it!” Fast feet whipped across the grass.Ambitious shouts filled the air. But those butterfly nets remained empty.
Could the greatest detriment to intentional life be “hurry”? In a world addicted to speed, I blur the moments into one unholy smear….Hands of the clock whip hard. So I push hard and I bark hard and I fall hard and when their wide eyes brim sadness and their chins tremble weak….… Hurry always empties a soul… (Anne Voskamp, 1000 Gifts).
It’s difficult to seize teachable moments when our moments are crammed to capacity. It’s easy to race right past a burning bush when our eyes are fixed on our schedules rather than our Savior.
Life is not an emergency, Anne reminds us. Life is brief and it is fleeting but it is not an emergency. Life is so urgent it necessitates living slow… in Christ; the most urgent necessitates a slow and steady reverence… The fast have spiritually slow hearts.
Red-faced and sweaty, Joshua plopped down beside me and sighed in frustration. “I just can’t catch any flutterflies,” he complained with a wave of his empty net. “They’re all too fast for me.”
I glanced at the butterfly house sitting on the old stump behind me, and I leaned low to whisper in my four-year-old’s ear. “Those butterflies aren’t the ones that are too fast, buddy. You are.”
Joshua cocked his sweaty head and raised an eyebrow toward heaven.
“If you want to catch a butterfly, you need to slow down.”
My green-eyed boy plucked a blade of grass and rolled it between his fingers. “So, being FAST doesn’t make me good?” he asked, confused.
I planted a kiss on his damp brown hair and spoke the truth more for myself than for my littlest boy. “Being fast doesn’t usually make us good at much.” A poignant reminder for this woman who is prone to amateur living.
Intentional living doesn’t happen by default. It requires a deliberate change of strategy.
“A really good butterfly catcher moves slow,” I told Joshua as I pulled him up by the arms and tugged him across the field of green. “Let’s tiptoe this time and see what we can find.”
We flung our nets over our shoulders and pitter-pattered through the grass. We noticed polka-dotted purple moths, tiny green worms, and dainty blossoms climbing up a mossy tree. Suddenly, a blaze of orange and black. A whisper of wings. A monarch on a petal of pink. With slow and deliberate strokes, we captured that fast flutterfly and placed it in our butterfly house.
Hannah slowed her steps and watched our hunting. Then she joined our tiny tip-toe brigade and together we moved unhurried across the treasure-filled field.
An hour later, we piled into the van and headed home, our butterfly house filled. While the children bantered over what to name their new winged friends, I chewed on the words of another joy seeker. Jesus never seemed to be in a hurry. When I look through the Gospels, I see that He was attentive to people’s needs and deliberate about His actions. He was responsive and busy, but not frantic. He was occupied, but not frazzled…Jesus’ actions seemed to flow from His purposeful and decisive heart, a heart that was focused on and yielded to the Father’s will… (Ann Kroeker, Not So Fast,).
We pulled into the garage and I hurried to serve lunch before I hustled my firstborn into town for drum lessons. I glanced at the clock and calculated the hours left before the baseball game that evening. The baby would have to hurry up and nap before we went. And the uniform had to quick be laundered. And the dishes done. And..
I glanced at the butterfly house perched quietly on my kitchen counter, admired the rainbow flutter of wings and paused long. Then I prayed that this amateur mother would learn to slow her soul. “We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.” -Psalm 39:7
A lover of Jesus Christ, a seeker of abundant life, and a freelance writer and speaker, Alicia has a handful of children, a home full of laughter and a life full of noise. While her laundry baskets are NEVER empty, her soul sometimes is. With the help of a relentless Savior, she is learning to live life intentionally one moment at a time. She blogs about her journey at The Overflow! www.aliciabruxvoort.net. She’d be honored if you’d join her.