When I was a child my family took a trip to Charleston, South Carolina. While we were there we took a tour of Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. It was a beautiful place with so much to see and experience. We took a 30-minute tour of the massive 19th century home located on the property. We took a 45-minute tour of the plantations row of slave cabins called “Slavery to Freedom.” We raced our way to the center of a literal maze of well-manicured bushes and plants, which I remember taking much longer than it probably should have. Then, after doing all of that, it was time to actually take a walk through the gardens.
As you can imagine, my little boy legs were worn out by the time we started walking the gardens. We had already been “touring” portions of the plantation for several hours, most of it involving standing and/or walking. I don’t remember being too bothered, though. I have always enjoyed history and was loving walking through this amazing piece of the past. However, as we began making our way through the gardens, a few of the adults were rather motivated to get the show over with. What should have been a casual stroll in the garden very quickly evolved into a sprint for some imaginary finish line. The rapid pace we had assumed made it exceedingly difficult to observe the beauty of the flowers all around it. It was difficult enough just to take the view in with your own eyes, let alone to take a picture of anything of worth.
Finally, one of my aunts had enough and I remember her saying, “Can we please take a moment to stop and smell the roses?!” I was really confused by her statement because there wasn’t a rose to be seen anywhere close to us. There were plenty of flowers, but not one, single rose. You have probably heard this phrase once or twice in your life. It doesn’t exclusively apply to a desire to sniff roses, but instead indicates one’s desire to slow down and take in whatever a moment has to offer. In our case back at Magnolia Gardens, it referred to a desire to enjoy the company of family and friends, to enjoy the scenery and setting of the gardens, and to take full advantage of that space in time.
Our lives are gifts from God. Each moment presents various experiences and opportunities through which we can walk with our God and He with us. Even in the midst of trials, hardships, and heartaches, we are presented with the amazing opportunity to experience the strength and salvation of the Lord. At times we are tempted to rush through things, to try to get to what is next or what we perceive to be “better.” But, God has provided us with abundant blessings and gifts in the here and the now. In Ecclesiastes 5:18, King Solomon writes, “This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink, and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them – for this is their lot.” Sometimes, we simply need to slow down and take a moment to smell the roses.