For as long as I can remember, I have been in a hurry. When I was a kid, my teachers hassled me because my slap-dash writing style was pretty much illegible. I tried the patience of my piano teacher since I thought every song ever written was vivace. Years ago I tried to get healthy and took up walking because it was easy on my knees but got thoroughly frustrated because it took so darned long to get anywhere (a car would definitely be faster, I thought). No one ever meets me the first time and goes away saying, “That is one relaxed woman.” I am not proud of it, but I know it’s true: I hurry.
This morning, I had a quick stop to make at a medical building. With a million errands to run after that, I was not in the mood to doddle. I got out of the car, hustled toward the door and….stopped. Or at least it felt like a complete stop. There was a woman, shuffling along with a walker, directly between me and the door.
It is not the first time this has happened. Usually it is an elderly or injured person at the mall or a parent taking a toddler for a “walk” along the sidewalk. My inner voice yells, “Hurry up! Get out of the way!” I always want to make a run for it and cut ahead of them.
Thankfully, although I may be someone who rushes far too much, I also think it’s important to be respectful and polite. So I quietly waited. I smiled at the woman, and the caregiver travelling with her. I held the door open for them. I tried not to show that I was gritting my teeth.
Several stops later I found myself in exactly the same predicament, yet again: me in a rush, and a slow lady blocking my way. “Arg!” the voice in my head shouted in complete exasperation. “Why does it have to be ME who gets behind all these slow people?”
It dawned on me right then that I am exactly the right person to have slow people getting in my way. And this is exactly the right time, too.
In the church, the season leading up to Christmas is Advent. It is supposed to be a time of reflection and waiting, a slow journey of increasing light until we celebrate the birth of Jesus. I have not had many days lately, however, that would qualify as reflective or slow. Like so many others, I have been too caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.
So there I was feeling irritated. Again.
I decided to try something else. I decided to embrace those few minutes and look up from my groceries long enough to feel the cold wind on my face, see the grey clouds shifting overhead, and appreciate the woman ahead of me who was doing the best she could. I slowed down. I took a deep breath.
I know that there are some people in the world who are born to move slowly and patiently and I long to be one of them. Until that time, however, I am going to be grateful for those people in my path that slow me down. I may have to remind myself a hundred times, but it is true. They are doing me a favour, especially in this season of waiting.