I am sure you know the story of a man who got into his car, backed onto the streets and then zoomed onto his brick house to test his invention. If I didn’t know what he was doing, I would call him crazy, or just high with his drugs or booze. That was Carl C Clark, the guy who invented the air bags. He died in 2006. His wife knew though that he was not crazy he was figuring things out by crashing into things he should not have. But it was worth it. Because he saves thousands of lives each year from this great invention.
I think prophet Elijah could have used a few air bags when he had to run for his life after his confrontation with Ahab’s wife, of whom we had been talking for three Sundays now. She was seeking to kill Elijah. She had already pronounced the verdict that he is a piece of dead meet if he ever gets caught. Well, that will be second murder we had been hearing about Jezebel did in the last few days. She had no qualms killing the poor man of the Jezreelite, Naboth. Remember from two Sundays ago. I shared then how she did not listen to the inner voice of God, King Ahab did not listen to the inner voice of God, which I called the gift of knowledge given to each of us. Today I am going to say what should we do to activate this gift of the Holy Spirit? Some people came and asked me, Jos, Yes, I understand it is the gift of the Holy Spirit. But how do I know it and what should I do about it?
Prophet Elijah was doing pretty good when everything came crashing down on him. He was busy prophesying and doing the work of God so fast and furious, he had no time to think and rest from all the damnation and doom he was proclaiming. On top already stressful job he has, now there is something else. There is a headhunter in Jezebel.
He had all the adrenaline needed to make the last run.. He runs and runs. He can not take another step. He stops. He is tired of the fight in life. He stops not because he wants to but because he is unable to take another step. He had been running with the power of things he had to get done and the things he has to accomplish. He did complete what he was called to do.
Just like us. We have all kinds of deadlines, and schedules we need to manage. Because of all of them on our way, threatening to take our life away, we keep running and managing things efficiently and at the end, just want to crash when we can. We, the Americans, do things well and efficiently but in exchange for a lot of who we are and what we are supposed to be for ourselves and for others we love and care about. Slowing down is not in our dictionary. We have no time to stop and smell the roses or for that reason the coffee we are brewing in our own kitchen.
Have you heard of slow parenting? It is about taking small steps and simple ones with the children when they need us. I am trying it. O my, how hard is it? Talk about it. When Angi was away, I had to slow down. Just like the Prophet I was forced to slow down. I am forced to take my children around the block, to the park, to the boat, to the jump place and to the beautiful nature around. I am forced to watch Sponge Bob Square Pants about 100 times and then a few more times Bob the builder.
Listen to this words from the book of Sirach. “My child, do not busy yourself with many matters, if you multiply activities, you will not be held blameless…. There are those who work, and struggle and hurry, but are so much the more in want” (Sirach 11: 10-11) The more we work and accumulate things to do, the more we are in need and want more and no time for anything else. The less we have, the less we need.
So what should we do about it? Slow down. Just slow down willingly and knowingly. Ramming through life to get to the other side is of no value, for the things we pack in this lifetime is not of value to God nor to those whom we love. What is valuable is being able to do it slowly, carefully along with those whom we love. If we do not, then we will find ourselves sitting under the solitary broom tree that stands for loneliness.
So, here are the steps to follow.
Stop ramming through life like crazy.
Go slow and take with you those whom you have come to love along the way, smell the roses and a take a deep breath at the coffee pot and drink a cup of tea that is boiling in the kitchen.
Take a hike, bike, and walk.
If with all these you still find yourself under the broom tree of loneliness, and fell asleep, listen for God’s voice in your dream.
We all need to rejuvenate, take rest and pray before we proceed.
If we fail to do this, then we might miss the gentle movement of God in our lives. This was the challenge for Elijah. He had to discern in which was God and how gentle is God when God comes into our lives.
This is called Spiritual Sanity.
Spiritual sanity lies in being able to act with right mind, and right heart, and not a righteous mind. Not ramming through the brushes of life, and the rush of adrenaline. It is coming out of the tombs we have encased ourselves such as schedules, social activities, social networks, parties without a downtime with God and Family. The moment we are entombed in loneliness, experience of many who are very busy in life, caused by ramming through life, we are possessed of those elements that are unhealthy, life threatening and destructive.
Believe me, the devil is many times in the detail that we have gotten so attached to. Do we have a legion of unhealthy attitudes and priorities that need to be delivered from and set us free?
I find myself needing deliverance from a legion of unhealthy attitudes, that I may be freed from the tomb that I have found myself in. Yes, the Lord still delivers those who live in the tombs.
Fr. Jos Tharakan (C)