looking through me

Tag: rhythm

hustle

“HUSTLE!”

The word still rings in my ears after ten years of softball coaches yelling it loud and often. Back then, my legs were conditioned to pick up the pace every time I heard it. Maybe they still are.

But hustle is not my native tongue. I was the child curled up in a chair reading a book, dawdling at the dinner table, being awakened to open presents on Christmas morning. I’m still that person. Off the softball field, I don’t hustle well. At least not externally.

On the inside, I hustle like there’s no tomorrow. My mind never turns off. I worry about fifteen things at once. I rehash conversations for weeks. I parse the smallest inflection and implication. I plan for what will never come to be and a half dozen alternatives while I’m at it. Expectations and assumptions hound me. The internal churn never stops.

I hear culture’s whisper to hustle: do more, earn more, spend more, get more. Hurry, hurry, hurry.

But Jesus never hustled . . . not even when people needed Him. Lazarus died and was buried as his sisters waited for Jesus to arrive. The storm raged while Jesus napped. Wine jugs ran dry, and He stood by. Jairus’ daughter died while Jesus paused to engage the one who touched His clothes. He drew in the dirt as a woman’s life hung in the balance. He never rushed.

And He never endorsed the hustling mentality. Mary and Martha? Jesus corrected the hustler and praised the . . . what do we call someone who lives hustle-free? I can’t think of a single positive word we ascribe to Mary. And that says something. We talk about her with a wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if-we-could-just-sit-at-Jesus’-feet tone. We give her nominal lip service even as we label her in our minds: lazy, slacker, selfish.

Jesus was the anti-hustler. And He issued an open invitation to join Him: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

He doesn’t say do nothing. He doesn’t advocate idleness or wasting time. But He does use words like rest and grace. He does promote rhythms of unhurried, unburdened living. He says watch how I do it as we walk together and work together.

He reminds me, I wasn’t made for hustle—not on the outside and not on the inside.

 

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line drawing

I’ve been drawing the same doodle for twenty-five years. Classmates in junior high, band members in high school, colleagues in work meetings—they’ve all seen it.

It was an assignment in a fifth grade art class: create a pattern of straight lines drawn in triplicate. And I’m still practicing it on to-do lists and meeting agendas.

Each one is unique. The length and angle of the lines are never identical. The spacing varies. But the differences are a bit like the distinctions between snowflakes. No one is going to notice at a glance. They look remarkably the same.

I start with a blank space and pick a place for the first pen stroke. The rest follow. I don’t plan them. I rotate the paper and draw in the next lines that make sense. I don’t know what the finished product will look like. I draw from, not to.

Like writing.

I start with a blank space, and I pick a point from which to start—a word, a phrase, an image in my mind that I put down in words. The rest follows. The end is a mystery when I begin. I write from, not to.

Sometimes something takes shape. The next line makes sense. Other times I work myself into a corner or run up against a conundrum.

But the beauty of working with simple media—lines and words—is that the possibilities are endless. The combinations, the angles, the connections . . . I can wield my pen forever and never discover them all.

So, don’t mind me, I’m waiting to see where the pen will take me today.

 

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