I confess that “Grab & Go” is not the most flattering of phrases that describes the enlightened human practices of the twenty-first century Western world. Yet, for many of us, it is a necessary tool for basic day-to-day survival – a way to navigate through the noisy blather and frenetic pace of daily life.
Here’s how it works: No time for breakfast? No worries – just grab a protein bar from the pantry, a juice box from the frig, and go, go, go. If you have 60 seconds, a K-Cup brews a good cup of coffee that’s hard to beat.
And who can forget dinnertime’s ballpark nachos with the inimitable liquid cheese? They’re surprisingly satisfying when you are on the go.My dear Mother has learned how to work within the genius of the “Grab & Go” philosophy too. My vibrant family of six is regularly enticed to her kitchen by the promised “Just Come, Eat, and Leave.” Yes, that’s my Mother… and l love her. The “Grab & Go” may not be the leisurely Sunday afternoon meal of days gone by that we all miss now and then, but it suits us just fine for now in this season of life.
Of course, the “Grab & Go” is not so much about food, or any particular object for that matter. I use it as a multi-purpose tool for life, ideal for hyper-speed questers, and evidenced by sundry rituals, such as the virtual Facebook fix, the daily Twitter newsfeed, and the timely Text update heralding such pearls of poetic wisdom as “I’m on my way” – “I just left” – and “C U soon.” And honestly, though I truly love the mystic serenity of leisurely strolls, quiet-times, and the stillness of personal reflection, the normal warp and woof of my routines requires the pragmatics of the “Grab & Go.” The logic holds that since I seem to be always on my way to do something else, I may as well “Grab & Go” something along the way – something to keep my bearings and sanity in check. Just a little nourishment “as I go.” Is this a healthy way to live a life of faith?
Admittedly, I am a bit embarrassed by how our up-tempo rhythm of life sounds much like Disney’s maddening scurry of Lewis Carroll’s beloved White Rabbit – “no time to say hello, goodbye, I’m late, I’m late, I’m late.” But I’m not here to cast judgment on our daily syncopated rituals, or even to suggest that we have found a sustainable philosophy for the long-term. I just know that I need my family, my friends, and my God to come along beside me even when… no, especially when… my life’s voyage must navigate through an angry sea of “very important dates.”
Recently, I celebrated my 20th anniversary with my wife Angelia. In honor of our special day, we traded in our “Grab & Go” for a few glorious days on the tranquil beaches of Jamaica – “a thin place” between heaven and earth if there ever was such a place. And so thus an idea emerged…
Among the “no worries mon” concoctions prepared for our daily leisure, such as the Jamaican Smile, the Purple Rain, the Ziggy Marley, and the Jam Duppy, I had the great pleasure to drink in unhurriedly Frederick Buechner’s fabulous “Secrets in the Dark” – a collection of sermons and speeches over his storied 40-year career. As I sipped (and chewed) on the wonderful ideas of Buechner, I was inspired to do a new series of blogs in “Life Matters” for my “Grab & Go” compadres. Can we just walk together for a while? I’ll come along beside you as you go.
For the uninitiated to the mind of Frederick Buechner, you need to know something of his fine craft to appreciate my next few blog posts. Buechner explains his approach in the introduction of his book. From the vantage point of all the many different lecterns he has spoken from over the past forty years, Buechner suggests that there is a part in each of us that sometimes thinks that the whole religious enterprise is for the birds. As such, Buechner believes that we all from time to time ask the ultimate question – “Can it really be true?” What I hope you love about Buechner – what makes him stand out to me as a true spiritual giant of our age – is his honest and humble approach to addressing the big questions of life. In his words: “every time I have ever preached I have tried to speak to that question – not just to proclaim the Yes in its glory, but one way or another to acknowledge and do justice to the possibility of the No” (xvi).
I hope some of you can find encouragement from the gems I’ll share in my next few posts from the mind of Buechner. Feel free to just grab what you like and go. And if you are like me, you may even be surprised at how long these ideas will stay with you throughout the day…hopefully even longer than ballpark liquid cheese.
Buechner F 2006. Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons. New York, NY: HarperCollins.