Edward Hays tells a delightful story from the East about an old man who heard the sounds of a horse approaching his village at great speed. Like a whirlwind the horse and its ride galloped through the town. The old villager cried out to the rider as he passed, “Where are you going in such a hurry?” The man on the horse turned around and shouted back, “I don’t know; ask the horse. I’m only riding it!” (From A Pilgrim’s Almanac)
That scenario can be true for many of us. We get going in our work or projects with such speed that we don’t know where we are going. We may be making a lot of money in what we are doing, but there is little time to reflect on who we are or what our destination might be. If you could slow down, you might ask, “What do I hope to achieve by this speedy life? Is riding the horse my vocation or is there a deeper meaning for my life? What would happiness look like? What does it mean to be spiritual, if not religious? Even to ask these
questions one has to slow down enough to think these questions rather than just being reactive to stay on the horse.
Jesus had a busy three year ministry teaching and healing but found time to be apart from the crowds to be present for God and alone in quiet prayer. Several references to his leaving the crowds and going to deserted places are found in the New Testament. “But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.” (Luke 5:16)
A life worth living needs time to reflect on what one is doing and to be present for God in quiet prayer. Even clergy have trouble doing this. One reason some clergy burn-out is because they are always doing things for God but find no time to be with God. That can happen to any of us. Prayer and quiet time is essential to discover who we are, where we are going, and space to converse with the mystical source of all life.
If your horse is the only one who knows where you are going, pull on the reins, slow down, go to the stable and have a quiet conversation. The Prince of Peace is likely to join you.