How is your pace this morning? Are you in a rush, reading this message quickly so you can get to the 500 others awaiting you? Perhaps it’s a good moment to stop and pause, to stare out the window for just a moment and enjoy God’s creation. It’s all just waiting there for you to notice, for you to savor its delights. Take the gift of time and use it wisely today.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Psalm 32:8 – NIV
Located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Tahquamenon Falls claims the status of the second largest waterfall east of the Mississippi River. Its dazzling water display is only to be outdone by the mighty Niagra Falls.
As Eric and I journeyed through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, we decided to stop and see if Tahquamenon Falls claim to fame was authentic.
Arriving at the state park, we followed the signs at the trailhead directing us to the Upper Falls main observation point. The paths were paved and easily accessible, making it quite friendly for me to tap alongside Eric with the white cane I use for navigation. Given my vision loss due to my degenerative retinal disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa, the white cane helps me identify obstacles and feel the ups and downs of such a path.
It was a lovely walk through dense woods with strands of birdsong echoing from the trees. On walks such as these, I hold onto Eric’s hand both for pleasure and safety, his steady hand providing an additional anchor lest I stumble on some unseen trip point. Though we tend to keep a good pace, we have learned to take extra care on these hikes, not wanting to risk a fall or injury that might ruin our trip.
The steps to the first observation point were relatively easy for me to navigate and the view from the observation deck did not disappoint. Rushing water churned and swirled along its winding path before throwing itself over the edge with reckless abandon. The water poured into an enormous pool below, its roar deafening as it made its powerful descent. The raging water then forced its way out into the rapids, splashing against the huge rocks and scattered logs as it raced down the river bed. It was a magnificent sight.
We stood mesmerized by the scene for quite some time before making our way back to the trail. Noting a sign indicating another observation point further downstream, we began our hike to the next viewing point. Keeping a brisk yet steady pace along the path, we were making good time while still enjoying the scenery. Suddenly, a younger couple came rushing up behind us, their pace more of a trot than a walk. Begging our pardon, they scurried around us and ran toward the steps of the upcoming observation deck.
Eric and I continued our pace, and reaching the steps, began a slow and steady ascent. My mobility training has taught me to hold onto the rail and use my white cane in my left hand to measure the depth and width of the upcoming steps. I have become skilled at using this technique and with Eric in front, leading the way, we began the lengthy climb toward the viewing station. The climb began with a series of short staircases broken up by multiple landings. The number of steps in each staircase growing as our altitude increased. Slow and steady, with Eric guiding me on the obstacles ahead, we made our way toward the top.
As we neared a landing that marked the halfway point in our climb, we met up with the younger couple who had passed us by in such a rush. Clearly out of breath from their hurried climb, they had paused to hold onto the railing, unable to complete their ascent without a rest. Eric and I, slow and steady, begged their pardon and passed them by as we continued up the stairs.
Not for the first time nor for the last on our 34 day journey, I wondered why. Why was that young couple in such a hurry? Why is our society so prone to speed? Why is it necessary to sail through life in such a rush?
It was a beautiful day in a beautiful place, and yet, something pushed that young couple to speed through the scenery. How much of creation’s beauty did they miss in their haste? Why are we all so willing to allow the pace of life to push us faster and faster? What does all this rushing around cost us? What are the consequences to our minds and bodies? How much stress do we add to our lives, simply because of the pace we try to keep?
Though years younger than Eric and I, that young couple could not make it to the top without stopping to catch their breath. They were worn out before their task was finished, using up their energy resources before achieving their goal.
I have lived life at that frantic pace, stressed out and worried about all my responsibilities. As the workload increased, I moved faster, trying desperately to keep up with the rapidly increasing pace, only to find myself falling further and further behind. My body and mind were suffering under the strain and I couldn’t really keep up anyway. That is a struggle that is not worth the consequences.
It’s time to slow down and savor the moment. It’s time to say enough is enough. Let’s take control of our time and use it wisely without scurrying and worrying constantly. How about we give ourselves a much needed break and take in some lovely scenery? Perhaps it’s time to make a memory that brings a smile to our faces.
Eric and I did reach the top of that towering observation point and it was surely worth the effort. The vantage point offered a splendid view of those spectacular waterfalls. In my mind’s eye, I snapped the picture, storing it in my memory banks that I might pull it out from time to time and savor the moment once more.
Like the tortoise in the fairy tale, slow and steady wins the race. Living life, slow and steady, is the much better pace.
“His eyes are on the ways of mortals; he sees their every step.
Job 34:21 – NIV
O Lord God, we give You praise, praise for another day to live and breathe, for another day to savor the delights of Your creation. You have blessed us with beauty all around us. You have surrounded us with good people in whom we delight. Help us to slow down our pace, to notice these good things, to treasure them as we should. Set our pace, Lord. Keep us steady and focused on the good work You intend for us. Help us to find the healthy balance between work and rest. Teach us to use our time wisely.