It is 25th December and I probably should be writing about Christmas or a related topic, or not be online at all. I however happen to be home and not too involved in the festivities and I guess I am excused if I am thinking of something different. As a matter of fact I almost sat home yesterday watching ‘home alone’ until I was rescued by a friend who invited our family for a Christmas eve party – “Jana if you are reading this, a big thank you to you.” So in solidarity with the many that are not in the celebrations and also the fact that after a couple of days we’ll all be back to the hustles and bustles of daily life, I’ll be writing on something unrelated to the season.
Having lived in Nairobi for quite a while, I can say that there is one very defining characteristic of this city, traffic jam. Not having been to too many other cities outside of Kenya, I can say that Nairobi takes the lead in traffic jam arguably second only to Kampala, the capital city of our good neighbor to the west.
I have had the privilege of being on both sides of the jam; inside a vehicle, and as a pedestrian observing those stuck in traffic. One general observation I have made is that it is very frustrating to be stuck in traffic; tempers flare, and our patience is really tested.
Discussing the traffic menace that Nairobi has seen in recent times with friends another day, a comment by one friend really got me thinking,
“Could the frustration be related to the fact that we are forced to face ourselves?”
In our fast paced world, it feels productive to be engaged in something every moment of the day. When there are moments where it is not possible to do anything, or that fast life is forced to a halt, it feels like one is wasting some otherwise productive time.
In the case of finding yourself stuck in traffic, you will tend to fill your time catching up on stuff on the phone (for the drivers, if there’s no policeman in the vicinity), the FM radio station, etc… , anything, but not be ‘idle’. When none of the avenues available for engagement is able to provide entertainment or sufficient updates considered productive, frustration sets in. This is the point at which you find drivers hooting, speaking to the driver in-front (as if they will hear) with their hands out of the window when he allows another car to change lane ahead of them.
Back to the statement by my friend;- the thoughts that the statement provoked are in the line of;
“Why do we dread quiet/stillness so much?”,
“Could it be because that in the quiet, we’ll face our real self that we are not prepared to?”,
“Could it be that in stillness we face the non-pampered self that is devoid of the public image we so much fight to project and maintain?”.
These musings led me to consider the possibility that these otherwise frustrating moments, when we are getting late for the wedding/funeral committee meeting after a tiring day at work, could be the very moments that we could use to reflect on our lives. That moment that your car can neither move forward nor backward could be turned to a moment of refreshing.
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps 46:10)
15 For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”
But you would not, (Isaiah 30)
There is a common misconception that lack of activities is unproductive. This could be the case in some instances, but certainly not always. Some of those times you are forced to be inactive can be turned to the most productive moments. They could be spent reflecting on the goodness of the Lord, and hence appreciating the good things He has and is doing in your life. It can also be spent productively communing with your Lord in the temple withing (“….What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost..” (1Cor 6:19)).
Next time you find yourself stuck in traffic, whether as a passenger or a driver, try to quieten your mind and turn to your Lord within. He has made His abode in you and always longs to fellowship with you. You will find that the otherwise frustrating moments will be turned to moments of refreshing for,
“…times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. (Acts 3:19).
May you be refreshed amidst the grid lock.