Thursday, July 11, 2013

Hurry, Hurry

Reese set her book down next to me and crawled into my lap. I immediately recognized the cover and title, though I haven't read it in many years. My mom saved my collection of children's books and she gave them to me when Reese was born. Between those and Reese's own growing collection of books, we still haven't read them all. 

I read the title out loud, "Hurry, Hurry." I recalled the words with ease as I read to Reese about "Funny Old Miss Mugs" and her inability to do anything at a relaxed pace. 

"Hurry, Suzie, brush your teeth... Hurry, eat your breakfast.... Hurry, put your shoes on... or you will be late for school." 

As she rushes Suzie along to school, Miss Mugs runs into one problem after another. She runs into the milkman, trips a lady walking her dog, falls through a manhole, and gets scooped up by a bulldozer. She's in such a hurry that she forgets to say "sorry" to those she inconveniences and she forgets to say "thank you" to the people who help her out of her messes. As she rushes off, each person warns her, "Don't be in such a hurry or something worse may happen!"

Finally, Miss Mugs walks into a ladder with a large bucket of glue on top. The glue covers her from head to toe. Suzie helps her get cleaned up, but she is unable to remove the glue from Miss Mugs' shoes. Miss Mugs has no choice but to walk very slowly, and she quickly discovers that it is much more enjoyable (and much less hazardous) to slow down and lighten up. 

Yikes, that sounds a lot like me, I thought. I've always been one of those ninety miles an hour people. Always thinking ahead to the next task. Never getting enough done. Never fully relaxed. Missing out on opportunities to experience the fullness of my life and the depths of my gratitude for it. Too busy to pray. Too busy to breathe. Too busy to notice. It makes a giant glue spill sound rather inviting.

The next morning, I got my kids out of bed and started the breakfast routine. As I lowered Allie onto the living room floor, a sharp pain in my lower back brought me to my knees. I don't know much about back injuries, but I knew I must have pinched, pulled, or strained something important. I made my way over to the couch and got back to my feet, but it was a struggle. I quickly learned that I could still function as long as I avoided sudden or unnecessary movements. 

I stood up slowly. I shuffled to the kitchen slowly. I made breakfast slowly. After breakfast I sat down to play with my girls. My phone range in the living room. I ignored it. The dryer buzzed in the laundry room. I didn't get up. Every few minutes, I felt an urge to go do something... this room needs to be vacuumed... that desk is awfully dusty... did I ever pay the insurance bill?  

Normally, I respond to those urges. Hurry, hurry. Get everything done. 

Only I couldn't hurry. I couldn't do much of anything. For nearly a week, I shuffled around the house. Like the glue on Miss Mugs' shoes, the twinge in my lower back kept me in check. I played with my kids without feeling guilty that messes were piling up. At the end of the day, I listened to my body's need for rest rather than my head's desire to restore order to my living room. I prayed more. I breathed more. I noticed more.  

It's been over a week, and I feel totally normal again. As ability to "hurry, hurry" returns, I am grateful for the quick recovery but I am also thankful for my real life Miss Mugs' reminder that "it is quite a joy to move slowly, and a terrible bother to hurry."