“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
With my grandmother and now my father in law’s recent passing, I have done a great deal of reflecting about time. How much or how little we have of it, what we do with it, how we use it wisely or waste it, how we savor it or neglect it.
I always seem to be in a big hurry. So much to do that I do not stop to be in the moment. I miss the now because I am running hurriedly to the “what’s next.”
One great gift I was given this week was someone telling me to unplug from work and concentrate on loved ones. It was a great gift and reminder. I am thankful that they gave me permission to do that.
Within the grieving process we have remembered and told stories of loved ones we have known. That great cloud of witnesses and saints bring us much joy.
In my own remembering I have often thought of one of my mentors: Harold Foster, known to me as “Mr. Foster.” He served as caretaker at my Dad’s first church and was a surrogate grandfather to my siblings and me. He was a fine man who lived in the church caretakers’ home with his two sisters. None were ever married, and they lived all their life in upstate South Carolina.
He became family to us, and we loved him dearly. He sat with the Gunter family at weddings and funerals. We spent holidays together and traveled together on vacations. We all wept when he passed several years ago now.
Some of the things he tried to teach me were about being patient, living in the moment, and being both intentional and deliberate in my actions. He modeled this more than anything. He moved slowly, thought deeply before speaking and took in all that was around him. Thus, he knew details most of us missed and what he did was done well and done right the first time.
He savored life and spent unhurried time with God. I think because of this he was as kind, gentle, content and happy a person as I have known.
At the men’s Friday prayer breakfast, he cooked the eggs.
They were perfect. What I now know is he wasn’t just cooking eggs; he was also modeling a way of life: live deeply with a heart toward serving others for God.
Cooking Scrambled Eggs
I can see him still in his worn and faded overalls Slowly cracking each egg Placing them one by one in the bowl Each slowly whisked together A pinch of salt A touch of pepper A bit of milk Deliberately mixed and then added to the pan It’s heat is so very low And the stirring continues So very gradually they cook This old gentleman, with the little grey hair he has left, works at this job like every job I’ve ever seen him do – unhurried With a content smile Consistency in his approach His labor untroubled The cooking finally completed even in that ultra-low heat And they are delicious Light and fluffy Masterfully seasoned before they are ever plated They melt in your mouth They bring joy Quite frankly are perfect
The eggs I cook are scrambled… But often have a bit of shell included Cooked in a hot pan They are done quickly There is little wait before you can eat But they are dry You better add seasoning before you taste and alas They bring little joy The job is done…the meal prepared but… Like most of my life they are done in a rush and without a smile… hurried along as “What’s Next” seems to be ever looming
The aged retired millworker, church sexton and lifelong farmer (and master breakfast maker) seems to know so much more about life than this man I am – with my fancy certificates and degrees Maybe the secret he whispers in his slow South Carolina drawl is to take it slow. Be deliberate. Perhaps the old man’s lesson to me – that I have never learned – is that the pleasure of life is found in the journey and not in crossing off “to do’s”
AND by choosing to really do the job right …unhurried… consistent… with a slow, deliberate and gentle shuffle full of grace and not a flustered and panting sprint to be done
Only in living in the moment will joy indeed be realized Hope appreciated And life, love, and beauty fully savored
It’s a simple lesson that sadly I’ve been in too big a hurry to learn
My breakfast is done but not enjoyed and my life is lived but not experienced A life not well-lived but hurried along as tasks are finished and a living accomplished but the love of life lost…
Perhaps someday I will master this… Unfortunately, there is no time to do it today… Or is there?
Clay Gunter Poem written August 2nd and 3rd, 2014 updated/completed 4/26/18
(In loving memory of Harold Foster – “Mr. Foster”)