An Unhurried Life

Dr. Sachi Nakamura

(Christian books translator, JCFN Board Member)

 

It was in the first year in our marriage, some thirty years ago. My husband and I went to see a movie.

The movie theater was very crowded. While I went to buy some popcorns and drinks in the lobby, my husband proceeded to the theater to secure two seats. The lobby was very crowded and the line was long. I looked around to find a shorter line. I queued to a line that I thought shorter but the line did not move. So I switched to another line, which looked moving much faster than the previous one. Then that line stopped moving. Frustrated, I went back and forth, switching lines. It was already the show time. I had not gotten any popcorn. Perhaps others had already purchased what they wanted or just simply given up. They went into the theater. I realized I was the last customer in the lobby. Hopping around to catch a faster line, I became the last one! It may sound like a comedy to you. But this is a true story.

I should have learned from that experience. But it is not easy to get rid of my habit to select a line that seemed to go faster. At the grocery store cashier, or at the ticket office in the train station, I continue to try queuing for the shortest line, the fastest line. On a congested freeway, I would switch lanes to be on the fastest track. I would repeatedly nudge my husband and children to make haste.

 

Pastor John Ortberg named this as “Hurry Sickness” in his book, “The Life You’ve Always Wanted.” He writes,

“If we have a really bad case of hurry sickness, then even after we get in line we keep track of the person who would have been me in the other line. If we get through and the person who would have been me is still waiting, we are elated. We’ve won. But if the alter-me is walking out of the store and we’re still in line, we feel depressed. We have hurry sickness.”

He is talking about me! Honestly, I behave like that even on the freeway. How about you?

 

“You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

 

This is what Dallas Willard said. Dallas has been a mentor for Rev. Ortberg and has coached many more for their spiritual formation.

 

“You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry form your life.”

 

It is a home truth. I am always in a hurry, eager to know what comes next, and seek the immediate result. I am constantly thinking what might be the next step and that makes me restless. It sounds nice to hear that I am thinking ahead and getting prepared. But actually I am not tasting “the present”. I feel like constantly competing with someone invisible.

Unfortunately, this habit does not do any good to the process of our spiritual formation where we are supposed to be transformed to be like Christ.

 

Rev. Willard said,

“Haste has worry, fear, and anger as close associates; it is a deadly enemy of kindness, and hence love. …for the most past our hurry is really based upon pride, self-importance, fear, and lack of faith, and rarely upon the production of anything of true value for anyone.” (The Great Omission, by Dallas Willard)

What a profound observation! When we are in a hurry, it is surely hard to be generous, kind, and peaceful. In fact, when we are rushing, it is hard to love others.

 

In 1970s, two psychology scholars at Princeton University conducted a famous experiment called, “Good Samaritan Study.” (Link).  In this experiment, a seminary student sets off to take care of some business. On his way, he bumps into a person laid on the ground. They observed if the seminarian help the person on the ground or not. Every participating seminarian was given different conditions.

One seminarian was told, “You have ample time to take care of your business.” Another was told, “You will be late to take care of your business.” One seminarian’s business was to preach on the parable of Good Samaritan, who helped the person on the ground. And another seminarian’s task was to talk about something not related with Bible.

90% of the seminarians who were told they did not have much time passed by the person on the ground. More than 60% of those with ample time reached out to the fallen person. Even those who were assigned to preach on the parable of Good Samaritan, if they were in a hurry, they ignored the person on the ground and kept going. The study concluded that the decisive factor to see if the seminarian helped the person on the ground or not was not relevant to their conviction of faith. It was rather determined by if they were in a hurry or not.

When we are in a hurry, we fail to be kind to other or to love them.

 

I am a chronicle patient of Hurry Sickness. But I do not want to remain as I am. Of course, there is a time when I must hurry for love. But if I realize my hurrying becomes a barrier to love, to be kind to other, I try to slow down. If I see all queues at the cashier are long, I dare choose the longest line. I dare yield my turn to the one behind me. This gives me a chance to turn frustration of time to wait into an opportunity to think of God’s will. That reminds me that I am an apprentice of Jesus. When I catch myself in time to slow down, I feel God’s blessing pouring into me. I feel God’s smile. I realize there is far more important thing than leaving the grocery store a few minutes earlier, or leaving the ticketing gate a step earlier than others.

 

“You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry form your life.”

 

It will still be a long journey for me to be cured from Hurry Sickness. With God’s mercy and blessings, I hope to eliminate hurry from my life.

Lectio Divina

Sachi Nakamura
Translator of Christian books, Spiritual Director, and JCFNBoard Member

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30, NRSV)

 

Summer will be over soon. How has been this summer for you? You might not have had much room to enjoy your summer vacation with such intense heat every day in Japan. In U.S., the wild fire in California has become a grave concern. I hope each of you have safely spent this summer.

 

Today, I would like to introduce you Lectio Divina, a method to listen to the Scripture and pray (or to read the Scripture while praying). Some of you may be already practicing it. Or perhaps you have never heard of it.

 

At the end of summer, in time for the new school term or for the new year, I wish to calm my mind and listen to the Scripture quoted above. If you feel any sensation of invitation from God by reading this, please try this practice with me.

 

First, take a relaxed posture and breathe deeply several times. When you breathe, pay special attention to exhale thoroughly. While breathing, be reminded that our life-supporting breath, which distributes oxygen throughout our body via blood stream, is also a symbol of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. When we face the Word, the Holy Spirit sheds his light on the Word as well as on our inner thoughts. And the Spirit also tells us what we need today through the Word.

 

In a relaxed posture, adjust your breaths, and calm your heart. Perhaps many thoughts might come to your mind and they might keep you from calming down. It might take several minutes to be ready. If you think of something you must take care of, jot it down on a piece of paper and set it aside.

 

“Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening” 

 

Do you observe the calmness of your mind? Then, read the Scripture above, slowly and several times. Pay attention to each word, each phrase, and take your time to relish them. It might be a good idea to read it aloud. In this Scripture, which word or phrase has left an impression on you? Was there any word or phrase that stood out to you as if an image coming in front of your eyes from those pop-up picture books?

 


Next, think of the word or phrase that came to your mind (or struck you or intrigued you). Like a ruminating cow or savoring a candy, slowly and repeatedly relish the word or phrase that caught your attention (or struck you or intrigued you.) Do you recognize any emerging image or scenery from that word? Do you feel God’s message to you through that word? What kind of invitation you might feel? You do not have to force yourself to rationalize or try to apply logical thinking. Surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit and take your time to meditate.

 

Next, respond in prayer about the message told, the vision shown, or the image given in meditation. Perhaps it will be a prayer of thanksgiving. Perhaps a prayer of praise. Perhaps a prayer of petition. Be free to respond. If you do not come up with much words of prayer, that is fine.

 

Then, let’s calm ourselves in front of the Lord. At this point, we no longer try to speak or listen; we surrender ourselves in the presence of the Lord, in His arms that wrap around us. Accept the invitation from God and just simply enjoy the fact that you are in His presence.

 

May the love of God, the mercy of God, the peace of God, keep us today as always.

 

(Reference: Lectio Divina)  Japanese Only

 

 

Scroll to top