Stop and Step Aside

A little while back, I was walking down a city street, on my way to meet with some people. The sidewalk wasn’t too crowded, there was plenty of space in front and behind me. Except there were a couple of people that ended up directly behind me, who were having a very involved conversation.

I walked along for a little while hoping that the situation would just resolve itself: maybe they’d head into a store along the way, or make a stop, or cross the street, something like that. But nothing changed. So, I decided to speed up a bit, to maybe put some distance between them and me. But they must have sped up too, because it didn’t make any difference, and I was putting in some extra work myself.

So, then I decided to slow down, and then I could let them pass. Well, as I slowed down, they must have slowed down too, because I was still stuck listening to their conversation right behind me.

At that point, I had had it. That’s it. No, I didn’t turn around and lose my temper and say something or give them a glare. No confrontation about tailgating. I did something different.

I stopped and stepped aside.

And you know what? The voices gradually faded away as the couple kept going. After a few breaths and a moment to look around, peace returned. I set back out on my way happy and content. Problem solved. It only cost me about 10 seconds of extra time. But it made all the difference in making the whole rest of my way a pleasant one.

When we’re in the middle of the busyness of life, there can be voices inside and outside of us that distract us and seem to stick. Like a record that we can’t shake. They don’t just resolve on their own, and trying to speed up or slow down in life doesn’t help all that much either. But there is one thing that can free us from them.

Stop, and step aside from life.

Then, peace can return.

He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. (Mk 6:31)

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