Who can disagree with the wisdom proffered in the now ubiquitous admonition that we should always stop to smell the roses. Younger people in the midst of the busiest seasons of life are reminded to stop to smell the roses and those of us past those busy seasons are told to regret the times we passed on the opportunity to smell the roses.
Metaphorically speaking, stopping to smell the roses is one of the ways we best sabotage the tyranny of the urgent. When the to-do list insists that we do one more thing, we stop to smell the roses in defiance of the list’s despotism in our lives.
According to the grammarist.com, the phrase comes from the 1960s autobiography of pro golfer Walter Hagen who wrote, “Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”
Who can disagree with not hurrying and not worrying and being sure to smell the flowers along the way?
In a way, I do. Sometimes there are things to do that are more important than stopping to smell the roses.
The end of this month will mark three years of retirement for Becky and me. I recommend retirement to anyone considering it.
One of the unexpected turns of the past three years is my return to regular preaching. I wasn’t looking for a pulpit to fill, but what began with a request for some one-time help with a church whose pastor had left unexpectedly has turned into a year of preaching most weeks. I would not have had it any other way. What a joy the people of Ossian First Presbyterian Church have been for both Becky and me. What a privilege to bring the word to them week by week.
I will leave it to the Presbyterians in Ossian, Indiana, to judge the quality of my sermons, but I can say for sure that sermon preparation has never been so satisfying. I think it has to do with stopping to smell the roses, less hurry and less worry.
As I did for many years, I try to do sermon preparation early in the week. Done by the end of the day on Monday is a nice goal. But before retirement, that was mostly to clear the calendar for a hundred other things that had to be done before Sunday: preparing for the men’s study on Wednesday morning or an adult class on Thursday night; there were committee meetings to attend and visits to make; times with staff and counseling with church members. It was a very busy life with little time to smell the roses or to ponder Sunday’s message until early Sunday morning. Now with a less cluttered schedule, I find myself pondering Sunday’s sermon on a Tuesday afternoon walk, during a Wednesday or Thursday morning devotional, or on Friday when Becky and I are relaxing on the screened porch. Less hurry and less worry. We have no literal roses to smell, but the sweet aroma of the word to be preached on Sunday often fills the week.
Any regrets about the roses left unsmelled for all those years? No, not really. I had a job to do that included committee meetings and Bible studies, staff gatherings, and hospital visits. It is what I was called to do and wanted to do.
No regrets about the unsmelled roses, but I like the less hurry, less worry, pace of retired life. Yes, this is a time to stop and smell the (metaphorical) roses.