“Well, here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?”
When George Bailey’s mother tries to scoot him from his brother’s welcome home party to the house down the road where Mary has just returned from college, George teases her that she’s trying to get rid of him. While George does tell his mother that he’s going, he takes his time. He strolls through the town, taking a look at the marquee and talking to old pal, Violet. He meanders around Bedford Falls and makes his way down the sidewalk, in no hurry at all, finally pacing back and forth in front of Mary’s house until she calls out and asks what took him so long.
George was in no hurry to get there, mostly because he’s unsure of what he wants to do. He takes his time. He thinks about his decision and where he’s going, and after a lot of thought and consideration, he ends up at Mary’s house where he gets the girl. Though his plans never seem to go the way he wants them to, he eventually learns that It’s a Wonderful Life.
In fact, George’s entire life is a lesson in taking things slowly. He puts off college so that his brother Harry can attend. He puts off his adventures to take over the savings and loan. He slowly grows older in a house that needs work, a family that keeps expanding, and a job that weighs him down. The pressures get to him (thanks to interference from old man Potter), and he wonders if life is really worth living.
So what happens?
His life comes to a stop, and he’s taken backwards on a journey that shows him the things that really matter. He’s literally made to stop, not take that sudden leap off the bridge, and reassess everything he’s known to be true.
Yes, I know Christmas is over, but there are so many lessons to be learned from the Frank Capra masterpiece, and I think this is one of the most important ones…
Just slow down.
Why are we always in such a hurry? Why do we think that we need to move through our days, our lives, at lightning speed?
What are we afraid we’re going to miss?
Perhaps the more important question is, what are we missing already?
My husband is one of those people always in a hurry to get on with the next task, the next conversation, the next plan. He can’t help it. His mind moves faster than a speeding bullet. The girls and I tease him that he’s never actually tasted a meal. In fact, when we all had the virus back in December of 2020, he didn’t even realize he’d lost his sense of taste and smell until I asked him to sample a gingerbread cookie for me. It was a new recipe, and I had zero taste! When Ken realized he couldn’t taste it either, he stopped and said, “You know, I had a feeling my coffee tasted strange all week. I guess I couldn’t taste it at all!” I just shook my head.
But seriously, think about it. Are we really tasting our food?
Do we truly enjoy what we are doing, or is our mind already thinking about what we’ll do next?
Are we noticing the flowers and the wildlife and the new store that opened on the corner, or do those things fly past our windows as we race to our destination, already feeling the pull to hurry off to the next destination after that?
Are we present to conversations or wondering about when we have to leave and where we have to go?
Are we enjoying life at all?
I remember once hearing some of the stories about the people who did NOT make their flights or get to work on 9/11. I recall someone saying he was angry at the car in front of him because they were driving too slowly and caused him to miss his flight. He walked away that day, grateful to that driver. There were many similar stories that came out shortly after that tragedy in which people told of oversleeping or getting caught in traffic or being at home with a sick child. Thank Heaven for those interruptions to their day, for the accident that stopped traffic, for the alarm clock that didn’t work. Those people were all given a second chance when they were slowed down by circumstance. I pray that they saw their lives differently after that day. We all did for a time. Do you remember that?
In a recent discussion with my mother and sister-in-law, we lamented that our families are always so anxious to rush out of church. The three of us laughed at how we all make everyone wait until the last verse of the recessional song is sung, ignoring the looks of our husbands and children. How much extra time are we really forcing them to stay in the pew? Two minutes? Three? Most of the time, we aren’t going anywhere special. There’s no reason to rush out, but there are those who don’t even wait for the song to be sung (or for Communion to finish) before taking their leave. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not judging them. Perhaps there’s a doctor who needs to be at the hospital by a certain time or a volunteer fire fighter whose phone has sent him an alert that he’s needed at a call. It’s not my place to ascertain their motives, but I look at my family and wonder, what’s the hurry?
Years ago, Ken and I took the girls to Disney World. That Saturday afternoon, we left the park in time to go to 5:00 Mass and then dinner before heading back to the park until close. The girls were anxious to get back to our vacation, and Ken was worried because our taxi driver decided to wait for us outside instead of trusting that we would call him when we were ready. Was he charging us for our time with the Lord? We were sure he was.
Just before Communion, the priest said to the congregation, “I know why most of you here are in town, and I know where you’re heading when you leave Mass. Let me assure you that the parks will still be there no matter what time you get out of here, so I ask you to recall, who was it that left the Last Supper first?”
Oh my! I looked at Ken and raised my brow. One of the girls leaned toward us and whispered, “We’re not leaving early, are we?”
–Side note – the taxi driver did NOT charge us for waiting!–
After that, the priest’s words have become a sort of mantra for us. We don’t leave Mass early.
Why are we in such a hurry? Do we want to be the first to leave? Do we want to leave the supper before it’s over to get to that next appointment? Do we want to rush from that moment, that precious time, that event that might be our last time with someone we love or our last night on this earth? Do we want to miss the chance to witness something extraordinary because we’re in such a hurry to see what else is out there or to honor an obligation that we might not need or should not fulfill?
“Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?”
Why not take off your coat and stay a while. Take your time. Look around you, and take in the sights. Inhale the smell of the wine, and taste the bouquet as you slowly take a sip. Savor your food. Take a few extra minutes after church to say hello to your neighbors or spend a little bit more time with God. Sit back and relax; listen to what your companion has to say, and take the time to have a meaningful conversation. Thank the person in front of you in line or on the road when they cause you to wait.
Don’t be in such a hurry to get on with the next thing. There’s so much to see and do in the here and now. Don’t be that person to get up and leave.
When you hurry through life without appreciating or recognizing what’s right in front of you, the person you are betraying might be yourself.
Come see Amy on one of these dates:
March 9, 2022 – Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, Wayne, PA 6:00PM – Lenten Reflection
April 9, 2022 – First Landing Wine and Arts Festival, St. Clement’s Island Museum, Clements, MD
June 4, 2022 – Christ Church 350th Anniversary Fair, Broomes Island, MD
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. The Good Wine, the sequel to Whispering Vines was released in June of 2021. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s chapter book is The Greatest Gift, and her most recent suspense novel is Summer’s Squall.
Amy’s second book in the Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Promise, was awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book in Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019. Amy’s book, Desert Fire, Mountain Rain begins her new Buffalo Springs series. Book two, Under the Summer Moon, was released in December of 2021.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019), A Devotional Alphabet (2019), Desert Fire, Mountain Rain(2020), The Good Wine (2021), Under the Summer Moon (2021).