I have a confession to make. I am an inefficient multi-tasker. I try to do too many things at once, get side-tracked and too often feel rushed. As a consequence, I am also an item counter. Yes, I admit it. When it comes to a check out line, I am an item counter. And I spend too much time asking myself things like,”Does a six pack of soft drink count as six items or one? Are they counted differently if they are held together by one of those plastic ring contraptions?” This is important stuff because it matters how I count my six bottles of Honest Tea!
In the “express lane” of a grocery store I count the items in the carts of the people ahead of me. Do they have more than12 items? Then, there is the person in the express lane who decides to get their checkbook out after they’ve been told the total amount of the sale! Come one! Can’t they put in the date, the name of the store and even sign the check while their 15 items in a 12 item express lane are being scanned?!
Don’t get me started on Starbucks drive through lines! If I could make one rule that everyone would follow it would be that coffee drive through lines are for coffee, not “mocha cookie crumble frappuccinos” or some special concoction! Just coffee, preferably black, but you can fancy it up with cream and sugar it you must!
Now, I’m not proud of any of this, but before you judge me, I know that some of you get equally vexed at other people’s driving (I’ve ridden with you and heard you) or some television show (let me let you in on a secret, they can’t hear you! so quick yelling at the screen.)
I became aware of this dark side of mine when I read M. Craig Barnes’, book Hustling God. “Have you ever noticed,” he wrote, “that some people have more than their share of problems, but seem to still be happy, while others with easy lives are not happy? (There are) a lot of people who got the marriage and the children they wanted, but they are still miserable. The thing that distinguishes us in this life is not that some of us are in shambles while others are doing okay. No, the thing that distinguishes us is that some of us are thankful while others are not. Until you become thankful, you will never find joy.”
I would add a corollary; Joy precedes Peace, and when the two are combined they are held in a bowl called Thankfulness.
Thankfulness, Joy and Peace are not found in things. I once read the story of a Holy Man who wanted to teach his disciple a valuable life lesson. Holding up a goblet, he asked, “You see this goblet? I enjoy it; I drink out of it. It holds my water admirably, sometimes even reflecting the sun in beautiful patterns. If I should tap it, it has a lovely ring to it. For me, though, it is already broken. If I put this glass on the shelf and the wind knocks it over or my elbow brushes it off the table and it falls to the ground and shatters. And I say, ‘Of course.’ When I understand that the glass is already broken, every moment with it is precious.”
Realizing that those things I hold dear, the people who are most precious to me, will one day be gone, makes me look at them differently, very differently. Actually, I think that it makes me look at them for the very first time because I can never be sure that it won’t be the last time! Therefore, I cannot take them for granted! As a consequence, I’m learning to enjoy the moment, to live in the moment. Isn’t that a glimpse of grace?
So, take 15 times through the express lane. Order a fancy frappuccino on you way home. I’m okay with it. Really. Kind of.