Have you ever walked like a turtle?
During the past several weeks, I’ve had ample opportunity to ponder that very question. Having recently returned from a six-state road trip with my family, I must admit that by the time we reached the half-way point of that twenty-four hour ride, thoughts of jet runways had entered my consciousness. But at that very moment, another image appeared to me.
It was of long-time CBS broadcast journalist, Charles Kuralt. If you remember, Kuralt achieved notoriety for his long-running Sunday morning show, On the Road. Despite the reality that air travel was gaining traction with an increasing lot of Americans, Kuralt presented us with an approach to life that today might be considered as retro. With a slow and deliberate resolve, he beckoned us to ride along, crank the windows down, and feel the mid-day breeze beat off a hot, Midwestern sun. After an hour or so, we would stop to enjoy a glass of ice-cold lemonade that had been prepared by elementary-school girls at a roadside stand just west of Des Moines. Once re-freshed, we would slowly drive off to a simpler place in time.
It was in a motor home (he wore out six before he was through) with a small crew that Kuralt deliberately avoided the interstates, instead favoring the nation’s back roads in search of America’s people and their doings. He said, “Interstate highways allow you to drive coast to coast, without seeing anything.” Having initially persuaded CBS to let him try out just such an idea for three months, it turned into a quarter-century project.
In my own life, the value of slowing down was recently revealed to me by none other than my youngest daughter. Having ventured on a walk with her, the pace was deliberately—slow. With stops to admire every wildflower, worm, and duck along the way (padded by plenty of conversation in between), this adult finally understood the lesson she desired to teach me. Slow down.
Having arrived at the fourth anniversary of my ordination to the diaconate, that lesson is an excellent one. With three-hundred baptisms and numerous funerals and weddings under my stole, it is easy to say that “I have been busy.” But is that all I have been? Upon deeper reflection, perhaps consideration should be given that at each sacramental moment of our lives, time stands still as Christ makes himself present in a special way. While standing in our midst, He holds, heals, and blesses us in ways unimaginable. And in doing so, He more perfectly molds us into that person He knows we can become. Truly, we are the clay and He is the potter.
Again, where does this occur? In the present moment. Certainly, in the 7 Sacraments. But also, on walks with our children, family vacations, and those stops at lemonade stands on hot summer days. In recalling the familiar words from an old Paul Anka inspired Kodak commercial:
Remember, do you remember, the times of your lives?
Today, may we remember that each occurs within a sliver of time and is perceptible only with our eyes and ears wide open— while walking like a turtle.