"Inside a moment," Emily Dickinson wrote, "centuries of June." But then Dickinson had a lot of time on her hands, didn't she?
Not many of us have the kind of time that Dickinson had to simply focus on the moment we are in, with the tick tick tick of the clock and the e-mails filling our inboxes and the phone ringing and the to-do list that nags at us daily. How do we stop our movement? How do we slow down?
Unfortunately, sometimes it takes sickness to force us to stop the running. I've had a taste of that before, and I had an encounter with that yesterday, as the quick onslaught of the flu caught me by surprise and put a halt to life as I usually know it. I could not even read. Nausea is very distracting. I could not even rest well, as I hurt no matter which way I turned. I could not even sleep well. I really could do nothing but lie there and think and think and think.
For a moment I thought "I have't been sick like this for years. Am I dying?" I'm serious. (Well, you know how men are.) When your body hurts, when you know the work is stacking up, when all the things you need to get done aren't getting done, it's easy to focus on you you you until you make life miserable for yourself and those around you. I've been there before. Yes, I did some of that.
But then I began to think of what I had in that moment. I looked around my room and began to be thankful for the home I had. I heard my children downstairs talking and was thankful for them. I remembered my parents, my sisters, my childhood friend, an encouraging word, my church family, my pastors, my cat, my books, and Bette Jean Ellis, the very large African-American nurse who nursed and prayed me to health when I was in the hospital once for six weeks with a life-threatening illness and gave me a book of God's Precious Promises with my name mispelled on the front and these words inside: "To Steven, I hope that you will enjoy this little book, to know that God is able to do all things, and that in all things He is in control. God has an even greater work for you. Listen for that small voice. Do his will not your own will. In Christ, Bette Jean Ellis, 10/14/93.
Well, it was just the flu, I know, from which I'm much better today, and I know you've all had it and maybe worse. But I'd have to say it was worth having if for no other reason than I remembered Bette Jean Ellis' words to me.
"Inside a moment, centuries of June." Make the most of the moment. Redeem the time.