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 pm 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 a movie or recorded show to get a snack, use the bathroom or get up and stretch.
Focusing on the word - pause - during the past few 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 to find a small bookcase to use in 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 to the filled garage. The mother told me all of the sales were being used to finance an 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 the anguish of her daughter's struggle with infertility.
Driving away, I realized that pausing to listen to the mother, added meaning to my purchase, gave me a lot more information than I expected when I walked to the sale. Now whenever I walk or drive by this house, I ask God to comfort this couple and guide them as they plan for the future.
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 challenges I face. Donna set aside time from preparing for her niece's baby shower and caring for a sick family member, to send a grouping of love my way.
Saturday morning, after swimming, I stopped by one of my favorite quilt stores. Being the only customer at the time, 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 told 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 read about in the newspaper or magazines.
Once again, pausing in places and with people I didn't know, opened a window into their souls that tapped compassion in my heart.
Jesus modeled pausing. When people came to him 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 and care.
Pausing does take time, extra time. I look at what I gained at the garage sale and the quilt store by pausing and listening which added depth and meaning to each experience. Now, when I look at my bookcase or drive by the house where the garage sale occurred, as I said, I can bring the couple to God as they await a child.
When I use the fabric purchased at the quilt store, 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.