Monday, August 23, 2010

No time to stand and stare?

(W. H. Davies)

What is this life, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?

So wrote the poet W. H. Davies, native of my home town, Newport in South Wales. For many years the author dropped out of the rat race and lived as a tramp, wandering aimlessly around the United States and the United Kingdom. His most famous poem, the opening lines of which are quoted above, was entitled Leisure. In it Davies extols the virtue of taking time to delight in the simple beauties of creation. I think the poem speaks powerfully to our frantically busy society where life is lived at such a pace that we have little time to stand and stare.

While laziness isn't exactly a good thing, being so busy that times of rest and reflection are squeezed out of our lives isn't good for us either. It is interesting that the fourth of the Ten Commandments tells us to stop working and have a day off, Exodus 20:8-11. Following the Christian pattern Sunday used to be regarded as the day of rest in our country. But nowadays there is little difference between Sunday and the other days of the week. I wonder if we are the poorer for that. We need to take time to recharge our batteries, to think and reflect about life and spend time unhurriedly enjoying the company of friends and loved ones.

Christians gather for worship on a Sunday to make space in our lives to listen to what God is saying to us through his Word and to praise him for all the simple blessings of this life. Jesus said, "Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28). If we have no time to stand and stare at the wonders of God's world and no time to sit and listen to his voice, then our lives are impoverished. W. H. Davies' poem concludes,

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

* Written for the September editon of News & Views, West Lavington Parish Magazine.

1 comment:

Dennis Hester said...

You are so right Guy, we do not take the time to stand and stare.

America is a weary and nervous nation. Eeven the church is exhausted from worshipping the idol of "business." Being active is not the same as being committed or holy. Vance Havner, the most quoted preacher of the Twentieth-Century said, "If you see someone walking down the road today you either think he is out of gas or out of his head."

Havner was always calling Christians and (especially preachers) to find a place of solitude and to meditate and "think" on the things of God. He like Billy Graham believed that we preachers need to preach less and study God's Word more and to think on the holy things of God.

We often miss God's blessings and tender moments with those we love because we are too busy, often busy on our way to do some "great thing" for God. But the greatest thing we can do is to know God. And to know God, it takes time to pray, to talk to God, to listen to God talk to us and time to just be still and stare into the face of God in His Word, in His people, in His world.

Havner used to say, “I have no sympathy with those who say the devil never takes a vacation. I am not following the devil but the Lord, who said, “Come ye yourselves apart ... and rest a while.”

Most of Vance Havner’s 30+ books are out of print, but you can find them in electronic form.