Last Saturday my daughter and I headed to the mall for a day of snacks and shopping. We dodged roaming packs of teenagers and moms pushing strollers. We browsed through racks of clothes, cards, and candles, jewelry, shoes, and handbags. Somewhere between the shrieking crowd of kids climbing around the plastic play area and the shifting mass of humanity outside the Apple store, I considered that the noise and chaos of the mall has something to teach me about slowing down and enjoying life.
Move slowly and carefully, but always keep moving. In the mall, if we move too fast we collide with obstacles, too slow and we disrupt traffic. In life, if we travel cautiously and stay constantly in motion, eventually we will reach our destination.
Temptations are not always opportunities. In the mall, bold SALE signs called from every display window declaring bargains too good to resist; but when we looked at tags on individual items, the prices were not always the great deals we had hoped. In life, it is important to watch for signs showing us our options, but investigate each choice closely before deciding what to take home.
What we want most cannot be bought from a store. The message of the mall is that all we desire can be plucked from a rack and purchased at a cash register. On Saturday, I enjoyed spending time with my daughter, talking about her job, her hopes for a home, and her plans for the coming week. What I value in life is engaging conversation, some company on a busy weekend, and a caring connection with family and friends. We can experience much of life by visiting the mall, but the most valuable gifts are available to everyone for no cost at all.
What have you discovered in the crowded areas of your life? What are you shopping for today?