Stop and Smell the Flowers

May 29, 2015

I am constantly teaching my three-year-old son things. Well, I'm trying to teach him things but at times wonder if he's actually listening.

"I know you can hear my voice," I hear myself saying as he covers his face when he doesn't want to listen (and he's now used the line back).

If I'm honest, I recognize he's learning - a lot! Songs, books, and even how to properly behave. But sometimes he's the one teaching me.


We went to the store a few weeks ago to buy some flowers to plant. He loves flowers. He often talks about them, picks them, and smells them. So we decided to put some outside his window and at other places around the house.

At the store, I started acting my usual get-in-get-out self. I'm quick and efficient. He, however, needed to smell the flowers ... all of them. It wasn't just that he needed to smell each type. He needed to smell each individual flower. (He must have worked up a sweat smelling the flowers as he had to take his jacket off.) And so we slowly walked through the store. I generally walk quite fast and have trouble just standing still doing nothing.

Ironically, he's usually a busy kid bouncing around the store, house, or elsewhere. But when flowers are out, he changes. When my mom picks him up for a visit, he often goes outside and walks around the yard until he smells each flower. Then he's ready to go.

So he's teaching me. Sometimes we need to rest. Sometimes we need to enjoy the beauty of creation. Sometimes we need to literally stop and smell the flowers.


The brilliant Old Testament theologian Walter Brueggemann released a book last year on Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now. He's right. We need more Sabbath. We need more resistance to the dominant culture that keeps telling us to work more, consume more, demand more. We need to stop. And the Bible makes that a central part of what it means to worship and follow God.

So basically, we need to stop and smell the flowers (often figuratively but perhaps even literally on occasion). That's a good lesson to learn, especially if we wish to hear the voice of God in the mist of our crazy world.

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