Jonathan sees things I do not see. It’s not that my new friend looks in remote areas; he’s not intentionally setting out to find obscure treasures. He simply pays attention to the places where he is. He notices what I glance right over.
Last week it was a “roly poly” worm, so tiny it was even hard to see in Jonathan’s small hands. “It rolls up when it’s afraid,” he tells me and then gently places it on the ground, hoping, I imagine, that the insect relaxes and stretches out. Jonathan would never want to frighten a worm.
I’m getting ready to start a new job share with Jonathan’s mother. We will be co-pastors of a church to which we both have strong ties; and we are excited. We’ve been meeting in preparation for the upcoming start date and our creative energy seems to multiply in the collaboration. We feed off of each other and we have big plans. In many ways, it feels like the job and arrangement I have waited for my entire professional life.
There are so many things I want to try, so many programs I want to implement, so much to which we both look forward, it will be difficult not to operate at a break-neck speed. It will be hard to hold back. On the face of it, I think this attitude is good. It’s certainly better to be enthusiastic about a new job instead of indifferent. Better to be excited than unmotivated and it’s actually been a long time since I felt truly passionate about my work.
Still, I can’t help but think that young Jonathan has something to teach me. I feel the divine nudge telling me that the 9-year-old is demonstrating an important lesson and that I need to pay attention to what he sees and somehow knows.
I must not move so fast that I miss things. I should not run over or plow across or speed through this journey, even or maybe especially in the beginning of it. There is much to see, so many things to learn, so many people to get to know; and I will not notice the small things if I’m only focused on the big ones. I cannot find the treasures that are right at my feet if I’m only watching for something beyond the horizon.
This is my ninth job in ministry; I hope it is my last. I plan to stay here until I retire. To do so requires passion. An extended pastorate needs enthusiasm, creativity, fearlessness and joy. However, it also takes slowing down. To see what I really need to see requires true vision. It requires the discipline to stop and look around me.
After all, Jonathan has taught me well. Great mysteries are within my reach but if I move too quickly I may not only miss them, I may frighten them away. Certainly, nothing is gained by running over that which we do not see.
Lynne Hinton is a minister and author: www.lynnehinton.com