Jane Kenyon (1947–1995) penned one of my favorite poems. It’s titled “Man Eating,” and goes like this:
The man at the table across from mine
is eating yogurt. His eyes, following
the progress of the spoon, cross briefly
each time it nears his face. Time,
and the world with all its principalities,
might come to an end as prophesied
by the Apostle John, but what about
this man, so completely present
to the little carton with its cool,
sweet food, which has caused no animal
to suffer, and which he is eating
with a pearl-white plastic spoon.
Kenyon’s attention to detail is exquisite. I can almost picture this man enjoying his yogurt. But more than her vivid description, I admire Kenyon’s ability to block out all other distractions and focus her attention on someone else. I’m often too self-absorbed to be fully present with family and friends, let alone strangers.
But I had a moment like this in the early morning of August 20th while drinking warm, hazelnut coffee at Panera. As I pondered what I might write for today’s Crossroads Connection, a group of elderly women sat down at the table across from me. First there were two, but a third joined them several minutes later. I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on their conversation.
They discussed the routes they take during their daily strolls in the park and the beautiful houses they enjoy along the way. They conversed about their daily schedules and the goings on and whereabouts of their grandchildren. They enjoyed a meal together and talked about life.
Several thoughts occurred to me in that moment:
First, I need to slow down and enjoy conversations with people. Even our small talk can echo into eternity.
Second, I’m too busy if I can’t slow down and enjoy a walk outside. The beauty of creation refuels and energizes me.
Third, life is made up mostly of seemingly unremarkable events. Some days we run, some days we fly, but most days we walk. Yet it’s those days that make up our lives. And since we live under the watchful eye of God, they are significant. They are the canvas on which God paints his faithfulness.
With mercy and with judgment
My web of time He wove;
And always dews of sorrow
Were lustered with His love;
I’ll bless the hand that guided,
I’ll bless the heart that planned,
When throned where glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land. – “The Sands of Time Are Sinking”
I think I’ll call some friends and go for a walk today. And, who knows, maybe I’ll enjoy some yogurt afterwards?