I had lunch this past Sunday with some of John and Margaret’s friends. I was pleased to be invited and to have the chance to get to know some new folks. I hate saying “no” to a hot lunch. The time we spent together was lots of fun with many shared laughs and discussions.

We just stayed three or four hours longer than I expected.

It was a 2 o’clock date. I thought we’d be home by 4 or 5 PM.

It was 8 PM when we put on our coats to leave.

Every time I thought we were about to leave our gracious hosts would offer more wine, or tea, or “How about a pancake?”

We watched the evening news together. We discussed everything from politics to the lifestyle of the family cat.

In the car I thanked John and Margaret for the invitation but couldn’t help but share my amazement that the “lunch” lasted six hours.

I said, “There is no way that would ever happen in America! You go to eat, you chat for a while, then you leave.”

“Aye, but in Scotland we’ve got a slower pace of life. You need to learn to relax a little,” Margaret encouraged.

I can only relax for about twenty minutes at a time. When I sit down a little spring inside me starts winding up and the longer I sit, the tighter it gets. Movies are too long. I can’t read for any length of time because my mind starts jumping around. I can’t sit still in church.

Preparing for a six hour lunch would have less stressful if I’d known in advance I would have to “relax” that much.

Scots do spend more time in fellowship. They stay later and longer at parties. I asked around.

“Is six hours a long time for a lunch date?”

Robbie told me, “Well, it is a bit long, but not all that unusual.”

It was a long afternoon for me, but the fellowship shared between John and Margaret and their friends is rare and precious, spanning 40 years. That’s my whole life.

Americans are always busy, but we rarely stop to ask “Why?” It’s a competitive culture and no one wants to be left behind. Everyone is afraid to lose time, as if we could somehow preserve it with excessive activity.

I’m not sure I’ll ever learn to “relax” for six hours at a time. That much relaxation is exhausting to me. But, when you consider the value of lifelong friendship it’s worth pondering which is the better way.

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