Back in the fifties, there was an advertisement for Coca-Cola showing a man in a business suit holding a bottle of the drink. The caption said, "At 4 p.m. the pause that refreshes." The slogan, "the pause that refreshes" became popular, suggesting that stopping or pausing for a drink of ice-cold Coca-Cola at any time of the day can offer refreshment.
Pauses also occur when we are in conversations and need a moment or two to collect our thoughts and think of a word we want to say. The pause button on our remote enables us to stop of movie or a recorded show to get a snack, use the bathroom or get up and stretch.
Focusing on the word - pause - during the past two days enabled me to find value in a word that might not quite define our fast-paced world of instant communication. For example, I needed a small bookcase for my office. Driving through our neighborhood, I stopped at a garage sale, spotting a bookcase before I got out of my car. I reached in my purse to pay, chatting with the mother and daughter who were in charge.
They explained how many friends and family members made donations that filled the garage. The mother added all of the sales were being used to finance and adoption for her daughter who had lost four babies. While she helped me carry the bookcase to my car, the mother explained the various options available for adoption locally and internationally. We stopped outside my car as the mother detailed her daughter's anguish with infertility.
Driving away, I realized that pausing added meaning to my purchase, gave me a lot more information than I expected when I walked the driveway to the sale.
Then I went to visit my friend, Donna. When I arrived, she had a bouquet of daisies and pink roses picked from her yard ready for me to take home. Donna paused during her busy day to pick a bunch of flowers that speak of her compassion and care for the challenges I face. Donna set aside time from preparing for a niece's baby shower, and caring for her daughter, Katie, who is undergoing treatment for a brain tumor, to send a grouping of love my way.
Continuing along that Saturday morning after swimming, I stopped by one of my favorite quilt stores in Nora, Quilts Plus. Being the only customer, the two employees welcomed me into their conversation about the valedictorian at one of the large Indianapolis high schools who is homeless. Amazed at the witness of resilience to persevere despite horrible circumstances, we concluded this young lady will be an inspiration as she goes to college and pursues a career path.
At the cash register, the employee proceeded to tell me the story of one of her adopted children finding her birth mother. Pausing to listen to the complications and joys of the discovery, I learned about implications I'd only ready about in the newspaper or magazines.
Once again, pausing with people most of whom I didn't know, opened a window into their souls that tapped compassion in my heart.
Jesus modeled pausing. When people came to Jesus seeking healing and advice, he patiently responded to each one. He could have said, "I need to go _____;" "I'm too busy;" "I need to rest." Instead, he paused at each encounter, offering God's presence through his attentive listening.
Pausing does take time, extra time. I look at what I gained at the garage sale and the quilt store by pausing and listening, adding depth and meaning to each experience.
Now when I look at my bookcase or drive by the house where the garage sale occurred, I can bring the couple to God as they await a child. When I used the fabric purchased at Quilts Plus, I remember the homeless valedictorian and the employee whose daughter's knowledge of her birth mother added a new dimension to their relationship.
Being the recipient of Donna's pause brings a smile to my face and comfort to my heart when I see the vase of daisies and roses on my kitchen table.
Take a moment today and pause ----- what happens? Become aware how you are the beneficiary of someone else's pauses.
Prayer: God, you pause frequently to hear our prayers and receive our praise. Fill us with patience to pause at each encounter for we are meeting those who are made in your image. Amen.