I walked the final four kilometers to CURE Ethiopia Children’s Hospital this morning in order to get some exercise. I had been sick for a couple of weeks, and I could feel how deconditioned and weak my body is, and I figured it was time to do something about it. I passed several beggars on the way to the hospital. It’s sort of like America (except that there are many more here) – one tends to look the person over and make a kind of assessment as to the person’s actual need. Sometimes it’s someone who is elderly, sometimes it is the physically disabled, sometimes a young, single mother with a baby in her arms. Once in a while, a young man who appears well in every way will try it – but that doesn’t usually work around here. People will insist that person needs to go and find some work to do and tell him that. I passed a few worthy-appearing beggars on my walk and decided I needed to wake up and give to someone this morning. The next beggar I saw was an elderly woman who appeared to be completely blind. I threw a couple of birr onto her blanket that was spread out to receive the money. As I rushed past (I was set on exercise), I saw out of the corner of my eye that some of her birr that had fallen into a crack on the side walk. As I continued my vigorous pace onward, I felt disgusted with myself that I didn’t stop and fish that birr out for her and put it into her hands and say a kind word. I think it unlikely that she would find it on her own. Why was I in such a hurry? What’s the point?
My favorite quote, perhaps of all time, is from Rick Warren, “Busyness is the death of love.” The first time I heard that, the truth of it in my life pierced through my heart. He also put it another way: “Busyness is a great enemy of relationships.”
I arrived at CURE 20 minutes later, to find all the OR staff having morning devotions. The passage for the morning was Mark 10:46-52. Jesus was stopped by a blind man on his way somewhere. Did he rush on without responding? No, of course not. Many of the impactful encounters Christ had were interruptions to what he was doing or where he was going. But he always came to a full stop and took the time to look the person in the eye and address their needs on a personal level. He understood that life is about people, about loving them. He stopped and talked to the blind man and met his need for healing.
Mother Teresa said, “It’s not what you do but how much love you put into it that matters.”
I’d like to say that was the first time I ever rushed passed someone that I should have taken more time with. The problem is I make this mistake everyday with my own kids who are trying to tell me something (in great play-by-play detail) about their day and countless other examples… friends, colleagues, husband, strangers. How often do I have to kick myself for being this way and responding this way, before I can just simply do the right thing in the first place and not have these regrets? If I were God, I would have given up on trying to teach me this lesson a long time ago. Thanks be to God – He’s so much more patient than I am and never gives up on me.
I love this prayer from Rick Warren, one that I need to pray every day:
God, whether I get anything else done today,
I want to make sure I spend time loving You
and loving other people – because that’s what life is all about.
I don’t want to waste this day.
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:3
Originally posted at: http://ethiopia.thebernards.org/2012/10/09/the-death-of-love/.