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Saturday, November 19, 2016

piddling as a spiritual practice

If you really knew me you would know that whenever I am in town I start every morning with a visit to Chick-Fil-A.  It is more than just the food (which is great by the way), it is the space.  For twenty-plus years now Chick-Fil-A, sitting in my car in an isolated corner of the parking lot, has been the place I have spent my time with Jesus.  As a matter of fact, I was there just this morning.  It has been a rich and wonderful space for me, a place where God has met me deeply, a place where I have read and prayed and journaled and groaned and grinned and wept.  It has been a place where God has gotten his hands on me, where he has drawn his lips close to my ear, and drawn my soul close to his heart.  And it is still a place where he continues to transform me. 

Well, today I was about halfway through my morning routine when I went into the restaurant to get a refill, which is also a part of my morning routine.  And seeing as how I've been going to this particular Chick-Fil-A for about 15 years, I know most of the people in the store pretty well by know.  As a matter of fact, I've seen a lot of them come and go through the years.  As I was entering the store two of the "regulars" were on their way out.  And after we exchanged a few words of greeting, one of them said to the other, "You go on, I am going to piddle for a minute."  At which point she came away from the door and began to meander through the restaurant, greeting people and talking to some of the other "regulars."

Something about the way she said it caught me.  And something about what she then starting doing, caught me even more.  And as I walked back to my car I began to think about what I had just seen and heard.  And I began to be captured by the idea, and the practice, of piddling.  And the more I thought about it, the more I saw its spiritual value.  For most of us piddling is not a positive word, or activity.  As a matter of fact, most of the dictionaries I've checked define the word negatively, as the act or habit of wasting time.  But what the world considers wasting time, might be the very thing God requires in order to live life in union with him.  Life with God requires us to live at a different pace, to have a different mindset, to pay attention.  It requires us to not be so hell-bent on activity for activity's sake.  It requires us to not be so controlled by our own schedules, so driven by our own agendas, and so consumed with our own need to be productive and efficient that we miss the things of God that are right under our noses.  Piddling is a refusal to allow our lives to be controlled by a frenzied pace.  It is a determination to live differently; to stop and slow down, to linger and pay attention, to be on the lookout for the deeper things of life that can only been seen and experienced if we slow down and intentionally look below the surface. 

That's the beauty of what this woman was doing.  She was saying, "I'm not ready to rush off to the next thing just yet.  I want to see if there's something else here, something more, something deeper that I would've missed it I wouldn't have been paying attention.  I want to be open to the present moment.  I want to be fully here, explore the here and now, and find its riches.  So, if you don't mind, I think I'm just going to hang around for a while."  May we learn how to do the same.

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