By Chaplain Jeremy Carr
There is an ancient parable about a monk who went for a stroll in the wilderness. While enjoying the beauty and solitude of the walk the monk happened upon a tiger. The tiger began to chase the monk who fled, only to find himself at the edge of a cliff. Forced to choose between facing the tiger and jumping to the rocks below, the monk grabbed a vine to swing to safety. He held tight, clinging to the vine high above the crags below and looking at the fierce tiger above.
The vine began to give way. Knowing that his end was imminent, the monk paused in time to see a bright ripe strawberry on the vine. Admiring the beauty, the monk plucked the strawberry and tasted it – the sweetest berry he’d ever eaten. Between one crisis and the next, the monk took time to pause to enjoy a sweet moment.
I imagine few if any of us will find ourselves being chased by a tiger or dangling from a cliff. However I suspect all of us have moments every day in which we are rushed past the moment and fail to enjoy the beauty before us: whether it be hurrying past a conversation with a coworker or having a distracted mind while listening to the stories our children tell us about their day.
Life can be busy. Between the demands of work, the responsibilities of family, and the rhythms of activities in our communities, we can often find ourselves fast-forwarding life, missing the opportunities to pause and enjoy the beauty of each moment.
As a hospice chaplain, I have the great privilege of hearing the stories of men and women who are in the final chapter of their life. I hear great wisdom from the patients and their families. I find inspiration in the relationships with my coworkers and the staff at the facilities I visit. I find my life enriched from the moments I share with my family and friends in the neighborhood.
Remember the parable of the monk who paused in the midst of his life’s final crisis to enjoy a strawberry. Look at the stories of Jesus in the Gospels who paused from his large public ministry to spend time with children and the marginalized. Listen to Mozart who said, “music is the space between the notes.”
Never underestimate the power of pause. Slow down and be fully present with those around you. Listen to the stories of the patients and families you serve. Enjoy the connection you have with your coworkers. Look for evidence of grace in the communities where we work and live.
Imagine the impact that slowing down will have in your life. Imagine the impact a pause could have on those around you. Imagine the wisdom we could gain by listening and the joy we could foster by being fully present and engaged with each and every moment of our day. By way of a pause we will not only enjoy the beauty of the moment, we will also make the moment more beautiful.