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It was the event of the year for this African village. The whole community was buzzing about it. All week they had been talking about it in their excited Ugandan tones. We couldn’t wait for 10am on Friday morning to roll around to experience it all.

10am on Friday came and hundreds of children, teenagers, and parents filled the large grass area in front of the stage. Yet nothing much else seemed to be happening. Set-up was only beginning and there was little sign of the event starting. A couple of hours later and this was still the case.

You don’t have to be in Africa too long to realise that time doesn’t seem to mean much to the African. Schedules don’t dictate. Starting times are loose. A little time could mean a thousand years. The old African Proverb states that being in a hurry doesn’t prevent death, and going slowly doesn’t prevent living.

But perhaps, rather than time meaning nothing in Africa, what if time actually means everything?
What if rather than rushing to the next thing, they are content to dwell in the present?
What if instead of ignoring the interruptions of the day, they see them as opportunities?

Perhaps this is why African culture seems so beautiful to me.

What if we learned to worry about deadlines less and care about time more?

Now I don’t mean constantly turning up late for things, disregarding appointments, or ignoring the challenges ahead of us in our days. Our culture runs by time and we need to respect that.

But how much more could our relationships be transformed by slowing down and enjoying time together? How much greater could our focus be in the things we are involved in, rather than allowing our minds to be distracted by all that is coming next? And how much more could we see God in the divine interruptions rather than the mundane appointments?

It seems to me that Jesus understood this.

“A man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years,but no one could heal her.  She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.” Luke 8:41-45

Life presses on us from all sides. People make incessant demands. Diaries dictate where we should go. And all too often we just go along with the flow.

So let’s create more space to breathe. Let’s make more time for the people around you. And let’s be more present in the present.

Going slowly doesn’t prevent living. In fact, going slowly may just help you to find it.

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