Recently I have developed the practice of pondering – as in “And Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart”(NIV). Ponder is an interesting word. It comes from the Latin pondus which meant “a weight” and reflects that I am deliberately “weighing” something in my mind. Other English meanings of the word are to deliberate, wonder about, and muse, brood, chew, or mull over.
Pondering is not something that I set out to accomplish; rather, it snuck up on me. Perhaps this is a function of having lived for several decades. But I’m sure it’s also the result of becoming very comfortable in silence, even hours of silence. When there is no other noise, your thoughts speak loudly. It’s also the result, I think, of reading and listening widely. Hearing shades of opinions and learning many new facts each day makes it impossible to see much of anything as black or white – and promotes a lot of pondering. Pondering is not always easy, and it doesn’t always produce any results; however, as in many things, the value is more the journey than the destination.
I think that pondering should be promoted to a spiritual exercise. Like Mary, Moses and Joseph and David and Elijah and Paul and the apostle John had plenty of time during their lives to ponder. And many of Jesus’ decisions were the results of time alone – pondering.
Pondering prevents short-sighted decisions, angry words, shallow thinking, rigid philosophies, bombastic pronouncements, fool-hardy behavior, and distorted self-images. It can counteract stereotyping, selfishness, irrationality, sloppy journalism, and jumping to conclusions. Pondering can produce brilliant writing, soul-stirring music, moving conver- sations, astounding scientific discoveries, creative public policy, long-lasting relationships, unforgettable sermons, and ingenious compromises.
Of course, pondering is the opposite of “I want it now,” Twitter, multi- and omni-tasking. I am under no illusions that it will become the next best thing. But I hope we can encourage each other to take our time and ponder something everyday – even if it is just about where to plant more flowers in our yards to attract more bees so we can aid beekeepers in their quest to re-populate the world’s supply of bees, so we continue to have fresh fruit and almonds -which is one thing I pondered during a TED-talk this morning.