Robert Frost Teaches Me About Missional Living
Today, my son and I read a Robert Frost poem, one I had never before encountered. It’s short, but its message reflected a missional perspective. See if you agree:
A Time to Talk
When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.
What I find most fascinating about this poem is the word “plod” in the next to last line. It changes the tenor of the entire poem, implying that the narrator may not be feeling enthusiastic about this particular interruption in his day. But at the same time, he goes to meet his friend, and I am guessing that after he takes this time out for the visit, he will be glad he did so.
The poem hits home for me, because I am a tried-and-true introvert, and I am also not someone who does well with interruptions, especially when I am in the midst of a task or a to-do list, with all my desired goals rising like Frost’s unhoed hills around me. But “A Time to Talk” gently reminds me that ultimately, the most important work that we are to be about in this world is relational.
I think of Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet, soaking in the time with him while her sister putters around in her busyness. I remember how Jesus’ strategy to revolutionize the world centered on his connections with a small group of people, 3 and 12 in particular. I ponder the reality that we live in an overly busy and frenetic culture in which “just stopping by to talk” rarely seems to happen anymore.
Perhaps it would do us all some good to make more intentional space in our lives to spend time visiting others and inviting friends, neighbors, and acquaintances into our lives with more frequency. An idea we have talked about doing in our family but have yet to implement is to start a regular “open house” evening and let our friends and neighbors know they are welcome to stop by for a visit, then encourage others to do the same. I’m now motivated to try this out this summer!
Your hills may remain untilled and your to-do list ever-daunting, but as we do the mission-critical work of building deeper and more meaningful relationships with those around us, I have a feeling we will be closer to choosing what Jesus is hoping for from his people. Even if it takes us a little plodding to get there, I think we will ultimately be glad we did so.
Are there ways your family intentionally strives to create “time to talk” space in your life? How do you do so? Would love to see your ideas!