And I find [God] never guides us into an intolerable scramble of panting feverishness.
–Thomas R. Kelly, A Testament of Devotion
This past weekend my husband and I attended a wedding in North Georgia. We were in the heart of Georgia wine country, and because we had arrived prior to the time we could check into our accommodations, we decided to stop by one of the wineries to pass the time with a wine tasting. The tasting consisted of half a dozen different dry wines, two white and four red. Paying attention to the often subtle differences among the different wines, I was reminded of the importance of mindfulness.
We sniffed, sipped and noted the hints of flowers, oak or other characteristics of the various samples. I expected to be able to differentiate between the tastes of whites and reds, but was surprised at how I could tell the differences among seemingly similar red wines. Because my full attention was devoted to what I was doing, and because I was not in any hurry, my senses were more acute to details I might have otherwise missed.
We stayed the night at an eco-friendly lodge. On Saturday morning after breakfast, we had the opportunity to tour the grounds and learn about permaculture practices the owners had adopted. While there was more than I could absorb in one walk around the lodge, what I did learn was that the owners paid attention to which areas received morning or afternoon sunlight and also the direction of prevailing winds. They grouped plants so that the different plants helped each other by providing shade or beneficial insects or important nutrients. For them to experience success with their practices, the owners had to approach their project with mindfulness.
The process of slowing down enough to pay attention enough to taste the differences in wines, or to notice which way the wind normally blows at one’s home, or to see that someone’s eyes are sad even as they are responding “fine” to you as you ask them how they are, requires practice for most of us, because we are so used to rushing from task to task and place to place. Living our lives at a frantic pace is not following the way of Jesus. Jesus could minister to people because he was deliberately mindful. Jesus promised a light burden if we follow him. Following “The Way” means mindful living, not panting feverishness.