The Motion of Grace

“I think the world today is upside down. Everybody seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater development and greater riches and so on.  There is much suffering because there is so very little love in homes and in family life. We have no time for our children, we have no time for each other; there is no time to enjoy each other. In the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world.” – Mother Teresa

Continuing with the fables of Aesop…

*****

Disney's "The Tortoise and the Hare" (1934)

Disney’s “The Tortoise and the Hare” (1934)

The Hare and the Tortoise

There was a hare who was rudely poking fun at a Tortoise for being so slow, and at the same time bragging about his own speed in running.

“All right, all right,” said the Tortoise, “let’s have a race and settle this thing. I’ll race you for five miles and bet I win.”

“Ho! ho!” said the Hare, “that is a bet.”

So they picked the Fox as a judge and off they went.

The Hare started off like the wind and was soon so far out in front he stopped and laughed and laughed while he waited for the slow old Tortoise to come into sight.

He waited so long and he thought he was so safely ahead that he said, “Well, I’ll just take a quick little nap here by the side of the road on this grass.” The grass was soft and comfortable and he fell sound asleep. The Tortoise, meanwhile, kept jogging along slowly but steadily without a stop.

When the hare woke, he jumped up with a start and streaked down the road, but he was too late. The slow old Tortoise was crossing the finish line and had won the race.

The Moral: Slow but sure is the quickest way in the long run.

*****

Much has been written on the pace of our lives these days and our desire to slow down. Yet we ignore these longings of our hearts. We’ve convinced ourselves that we need to stay on the treadmill, or in the maze, and keep running faster else we get left behind. Depending upon which truth you have chosen to follow, this is a lie. You can disconnect your cable or satellite television. You can survive without a Smartphone. You don’t have to work all those extra hours.

We’re all journeying along a track. There is a finish line awaiting us all at the end. We can choose whether to run it as a sprint, a jog or a leisurely stroll.

You can choose how you wish to get to the finish line.

There is more to life. It depends upon where it is you are going and whose race you are running.

The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors old and new,
My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues,
The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love,
The sickness of one of my folks, or of myself, or ill-doing, or loss or lack of money, or depressions or exaltations;
Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful news, the fitful events;
These come to me days and nights, and go from me again,
But they are not the Me myself. – from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

I have found that when my brain is running a million miles an hour and have put several irons in the fire that my heart does the same. Too often my heart follows my head instead of the other way around. Yet it is ultimately the heart that must provide the circulation through the pumping of blood, energy, motivation and life that will fuel my race. If I am not careful to keep my heart focused and disciplined I will not only fail to get to the finish line I will get lost along the way. In chasing the world and its enticements I am no longer “the Me myself.”

It is also my experience that by running at the world’s pace we no longer make time to think. To contemplate. The results are bumper sticker slogans and internet memes. Twitter wars of 140 characters. We shout at and past each other. It is a colossal waste of precious time and bears no fruit.

On Monday morning I read these lines from The Imitation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (pages 86-87):

When unguarded, it (the heart) slips forthwith away, it runs to and fro, it is carried toward different objects, according as it is swayed by different impulses of nature.

It is never at rest: when it escapes from one object, it is entangled in another. It is excited by curiosity, it is allured by cupidity, it is misled by vanity, it is defiled by pleasure, it is wasted by sadness, it is tortured by envy, it is disturbed by love and hatred, it is worried by its own misery, and by worrying itself it is broken down.

Thus is my heart busied, thus it is defiled, when I watch not over it, or when I am careless about it.

O Lord, how great the need of being vigilant! How great the need of guarding my heart! It must not only be made to stay at home in recollection, but it must also be kept busy, yet only with Thee or for Thee.

I must examine, then, by what it is impelled, whether by nature or by grace: how it acts, whether according to Thy good pleasure, or according to its own natural likings; what it has ultimately in view, Thee or itself.

And I must watch constantly, until my heart, in some manner, has grown accustomed, sweetly and courageously to follow, for love of Thee, the motion of grace.

Slow and steady.

The motion of grace.

*****

This song was inspired by Walt Whitman’s poem Leaves of Grass and speaks to my heart.

A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms;
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag;
The delight alone, or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hill-sides;
The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun. – from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

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