Do not deprive yourself of good things in the present. Sirach 14:14
“Waiting for the mail” is a torture that has run like a thread throughout my life. As a child, grown men would gather at Harold Vessels Store around the pot-bellied stove about 11 a.m. to “wait for the mail.” The U.S. Postal Service was about the only contact with the outside world. There were no available phones yet.
The mailman brought the newspaper, letters from relatives, bills, clothes from Sears and Roebuck’s, seeds purchased from catalogues and even live chicks in crates. You could even hitch a ride with the mailman without expectation of payment.
In the seminary, they passed out the mail like they did in the military. Someone stood on a step, called out your name and threw your letter to you in a crowd that looked a lot like a nest of chirping birds awaiting a worm from their mother’s beak. Normally, your name was not called, but that didn’t discourage you from lining up again the next day.
Over Christmas, I got a lot of mail from friends and supporters for my island mission projects. I went to the mailbox more times than usual to see if anything had come that day. The mail, being late during the Christmas season, meant that I made many useless trips to check.
We wait for test results, our house to sell, a will to be probated, a visitor to leave, a contractor to show up, clothes to dry, seeds to sprout, the rain to stop (or start), to see the doctor, to board a plane, for school to be out, for the bus to come, for the light to change, for the phone to ring, for the movie to start, for the brownies to bake, to leave for vacation, to retire and finally to die
The more I think about it, the more I realize that I spend way too much time “waiting for the mail,” waiting for the next thing to happen as if my focused waiting can somehow “induce labor” and make the next thing happen earlier.
I need to quit watching out for what’s just ahead and enjoy where I am right now. I need to heed the advice of the old saying, “Quit wishing your life away!”
To live in the moment, instead of having your mind drift back to the past or jump ahead to the future, takes an extreme amount of self-discipline and spiritual practice. The word “savor” comes to mind. When you savor something, you enjoy it so much that you want to make it last forever.
With that in mind, savor carries a connotation of doing something slowly. If you savor that flourless chocolate tart, then you eat it slowly, bit by bit, deliberately picking every last crumb off the plate.
What we could have should never spoil the joy of what we do have.
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