Attention getters all
Blessed are the ears that catch the pulses of the Divine whisper.
Thomas a´ Kempis
“I find it ironic that the man who is so adamant in his insistence that I take my vacations does such a poor job of taking his own.”
I assumed my best defensive position for the second time on the same day.
“Hazel doesn’t have time built up, and I don’t want to take vacation without her.”
“It takes so much work to get ready to leave and then to catch up when I return that it’s not worth leaving.”
“We can’t afford to go anywhere, and if I stay home I always end up working.”
“Dad never took a vacation when we were growing up on the farm.”
“When the cat’s away the mice play. I hate to see attendance dip in the summer.”
I’m a master at self-justifying excuse making. Besides, who gave young pastors permission to speak words of gentle rebuke to one they consider a mentor? In the best self-congratulatory tone I could muster, I assured myself that when I was their age, I never would have spoken a corrective word to men thirty years my senior in their hearing.
Apparently, my failure to listen to a bit of good-natured but edgy ribbing required an exclamation point from the Calligrapher of my life. I never know just how much to hold God responsible for the shape events take. But if he doesn’t bear direct responsibility for what happened next, it falls under the heading of “divine concurrence,” what theologians call “the work of God by which He co-operates with all His creatures and causes them to act precisely as they do” understanding that when God co-operates with us we remain responsible for the deed. 
With visions of exaggerated self-importance dancing in my sub-conscious, I was unprepared for the sudden mind-numbing burning in my right eye. Burning in the eye that keeps me from being declared legally blind. The eye I protect with great care. The eye that makes reading possible.
With my mind on some important task that would soon require my attention at work, I had picked up Lotrimin® instead of Systane®. An unplanned appointment with the optometrist became the first order of the day. Her diagnosis: the drop of anti-inflammatory liquid burned the lens of my eye. My sight will improve but not quickly enough to allow for sufficient sermon preparation.
In a single moment of careless inattentiveness, my week changed. Two graceful but chiding comments and one absentminded moment later, I was subjected to a providentially superintended break from preaching.
“People who can’t find time for recreation are obligated sooner or later to be sick,” an old wag quipped.
Perhaps, but I’ve always been one to take my chances.
I know well the arguments for rest and Sabbath and make them to others, but I do not take adequate doses of the medicine I prescribe. I want to characterize my overzealousness for work as a habit learned from a father who did everything he could to keep five sons “busy and out of trouble,” but I suspect the more honest word is addiction.
Abbott John Eudes Bamberger urged Henri Nouwen towards rest, silence, and solitude because in times of doing nothing “important or urgent, you have to come to terms with your own basic powerlessness, you have to feel your fundamental inability to solve your or other people’s problems or to change the world. When you do not avoid that experience but live through it, you will find out that your many projects, plans and obligations become less urgent, crucial and important and lose their power over you.” 
My young friends and a drop of Lotrimin® in the eye served as pulses of the Divine whisper reminding me again to listen to my life. To “see it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” 
 I. Berkhof. Manual of Christian Doctrine. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1933), 114.
 Fil Anderson. Running on Empty: Contemplative Spirituality for Overachievers. (Waterbook Press, 2005), 73.
 Frederick Buechner. Now and Then. (New York: HarperCollins, 1983).