Slow Down and Link Arms
Many years ago at the Seattle Special Olympics, one of nine contestants in the 100 yard dash fell, hurt his knee and began to cry. When the other eight contestants heard him crying, they all stopped competing and ran back to him. One little girl with Down Syndrome bent down and kissed the boy and told him that “This will make it better.” This boy and the other contestants then linked arms and finished the race together at the same time. The crowd then applauded for a long time.
What a contrast to life in the “rat race”! From early childhood our society trains us to see life as a contest where some win and some lose. Everybody wants to win the blue ribbon. Everybody wants to support the winning team. I grew up in Salt Lake City in the ‘60s and was an avid Green Bay Packer fan. Why a Packer fan even though I lived in Salt Lake City? They were the best team. There were other teams to support, but those teams weren’t any good. I wanted to support a winner. On the first day of undergraduate school, I heard stories about Organic Chemistry classes where the professor announced that within five weeks only 50% of the students would still be in this class. The fit will survive; the rest will go home. That is not exactly an invitation to link arms together, is it? Church communities are not immune from this survival of the fittest mentality. Congregations compare their size and financial resources to other congregations. The neighborhood is a marketplace and the churches are competing for customers.
The end result is that the “rat race” is killing us. Everybody is stressed out and exhausted, and acutely aware that something is missing. The antidote is to slow down and pay attention to the one who has fallen and is in pain. The answer is to be a neighbor to the one most in need of a neighbor. This neighbor might be your spouse who needs to have fifteen more minutes of your time to process their frustrations before you move on to the next thing. This neighbor might be the person across the street who needs to talk about their troubled teenager even though you are in a hurry to finish up your chores. This neighbor might be a phone call from a friend that interrupts the plans you have made.
If I stop and take the time to link arms with someone who has stumbled along the way, as disruptive as it may be at the time, I discover what life is all about. I discover that life is not a race that will reward the fittest. I discover that life is a slow walk that rewards those who don’t care about winning.