I've often heard people say, as words of encouragement, "Take your time." Sometimes it was advice given to a person recovering from surgery or an injury or an illness -- "Take your time." On other occasions it was offered to someone who was grieving over a great loss -- "Take your time." And I've heard it said when an individual was attempting a task which required their full concentration and focus -- "Take your time."
C.S. Lewis, in his classic, Mere Christianity, observed: "The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind."
In today's world that problem is not limited to Christianity. As a recent TV commercial spelled out, "Life comes at you fast!" We talk of a fast pace, we eat fast food and we clamor for our computers and mobile devices to be faster.
To paraphrase the late, John Powell, "We are not sure where we (the world) are headed but we are making record speed."
Even the holidays seem to be approaching this year at a record clip. Of course, Christmas stuff has been showing up at the Cracker Barrel and Walmart and other fine retailers in August for years now. But this year TV advertisers started putting on the full court press in early November. It all seems rather maddening.
So, as the holidays are upon us, let me offer a suggestion -- "Take your time."
Take time to reflect. It was Socrates who said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." We humans are inclined to look back on the valleys through which we have come and overlook the mountain tops. Sometimes a look back helps us summon the courage to look ahead.
Take time to appreciate your freedom. Most of us Americans have lived, and will probably die, as free men and women. Our freedom is a priceless gift. Not that it came without a price, but that it is beyond having a price attached to it.
Take time to consider your friends. Friends are another priceless gift. In the words of George Eliot, "A friend is one whom one may pour out the contents of one's heart, chaff and wheat together, knowing that gentle hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away." If you have such a friend (or friends) you understand true riches.
Take time to write some thank you notes (or letters.) I have a few notes and letters which I received over 20 years ago. I still go back and read them from time to time. As William Barclay said, "Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man (or woman) on his feet." Go ahead and write that note or letter you have been putting off.
Take time to experience a sense of wonder. It seems in today's world we have lost our sense of wonder at the altar of entertainment and acquisition.
Many years ago, I asked a newly-made friend where he grew up.
"In front of a television set," he dryly responded.
Today, video games and mobile devices suck the mental energy right out of our children and grandchildren if we allow it to happen.
Best we take in a few more sunrises and sunsets, and gaze into the Milky Way galaxy on a starry night. And consider the fact that we have been "fearfully and wonderfully made."
So, as the holidays are upon us, take your time and "smell the coffee"... and the cinnamon and the roses and any other delicious smells that make you feel warm inside.
As I finished this column, I suddenly felt the warmth of a room heated by a wood stove and breathed in the smell of cedar.
Hartsville resident Jack McCall is a writer, humorist and motivational speaker.