By Pastor Paula Lund Burchill
My theme word for 2019 is pause. I have written about my love of this word and how it reminds me to stop and pay attention to my family, my own heart, my faith and my life. With my oldest starting his senior year this fall, I have felt particularly desperate to pause and enjoy him and our family.
But it has been so hard! I knew this year would be busy, but I forgot the desperation kids feel their last year of high school to hang out with friends rather than family. I underestimated the pull of technology in all of our lives and how often that sucks up precious time. And after a summer of sabbatical, returning to a busy fall at church and a busy fall of three kids in three sports has often left me feeling like a complete pausing failure.
So I have had to rethink how to pause. The first thing I have done is some reconfiguring on my phone. I took off those little red tags that stress me out and make me feel like I need to answer texts or emails right away. I’m not a brain surgeon, for crying out loud. And cell phones have a knack for making everything feel like an emergency. But the reality is 99.9% of the messages we receive are not emergencies. So I’m working on just putting my phone away for large chunks of time when I’m home.
I am also learning to notice when I can swoop in for some pause time. Is someone sitting on the couch? I walk over, sit down and ask him or her to tell me two things about their day. Or I give a neck rub or just sit and be present.
I’ve always loved that story of Elijah and the presence of God. Elijah has run off to a cave because he is scared and overwhelmed with all he has had to do. He hears all these loud noises but God isn’t in any of those. Instead, when a sound of sheer silence arrives, Elijah knows he is in the presence of God.
I can’t imagine that sound of sheer silence lasted very long. But it was enough for Elijah to know God was there and he would be ok. That is what I’m finding about pausing. I wish it could be for longer. I wish I could pause a whole day sometime. But little snippets here and there is going to have to be enough for now. No, actually I’m going to trust that it IS enough for now. I will take a pause however and whenever it comes and receive it as the gift it is.