Ode to a Sloth
It is difficult to feel sidelined. This is a typical feeling of those who are sick, or even hospitalized. What is scheduled often has to be cancelled or postponed.
Of course this is not limited to illness. Our lives can come to a full stop when tragedy comes, disasters, grief, and heartache. In a unique way we all have been affected and slowed by the Pandemic.
So the sloth . . . now here is an extreme example of slowing down!
I come from rich Mennonite stock, people known for their hard work and productivity. Creativity in motion, and certainly not a lot of sitting around.
So I come by this honestly, although my want-to-do list often exceeds my physical stamina. I’ve had chronic health issues and am frustrated at times when my energy does not match my desire to get things done.
You think I’d learn. In my twenties, a young mom with three toddlers, I was once hospitalized for stomach pain. My lament to my doctor was that I had promised to bake pies for the church picnic, two days hence. “Have you ever heard of the store?” He gently chided me.
Years later, on a gurney in the ER, I was told I was suffering a heart attack. I vaguely remember arguing with the doctor that it wasn’t really a suitable time, my dad was sick, I needed to care for my parents. My heart thought differently . . .
This week I’ve been sidelined by a mere cold but with Covid restrictions my activities came to a thudding halt.
In the midst of all of this I discovered Tuesday, October 20, was the international day to celebrate sloths. Who knew? Trust me, I don’t intend to focus on international celebratory days in my blog-writing, but I found this highly amusing.
Scriptures and particularly Proverbs are full of wisdom about hard work and the pitfalls of laziness. The word slothful is used, not in a positive way!
But . . . Have you ever felt God was slow? Slow to answer, slow to speak? Slow to respond to heart-felt prayers?
The scriptures are also full of words like wait, and rest, and be still.
I find I can get impatient when I am slowed down or stopped. I don’t always respond well when God seems silent.
So what can I learn from this fascinating creature God created, a sloth of all things? I do know God is NOT in a hurry. I know at times I need to slow down. I like the word productivity, I dislike the word slothful. Which is maybe quite unfair to the sloth, if you think about it.
I’m reminded there are seasons, seasons like harvest where we work hard, and seasons like winter, where even the earth seems to rest.
The patients I visit at the hospital are often my best teachers. They are learning to live with and accept limitations. Some handle this better than others and we often talk about these matters of the heart.
I have witnessed those who have lost almost everything be vessels of encouragement and speak of thankfulness. Their bodies might be slow, but their spirits are alive and well.
This is such a challenging season. . . one where many of us are having to curtail activities because of the pandemic, where we are learning to live a simpler and perhaps slower lifestyle. Perhaps it is good to think of the positive qualities of a sloth, a gentle creature. To worry less, to take our time, to accept the now.
If a sloth could talk, would she give advice?
“Be still. And know . . . That I am God.” Psalm 46:10