…resisting the need for speed
Of all the blogs I have written this is one for which I feel least qualified. Sometimes we can wear our busyness like a badge of honour … “look at me I never stop moving, I’m just a blur. My day job, my interests, my family, my church volunteering” … It certainly makes for a remarkably colourful cocktail, but it misses out on the blessing of stillness; so in the end it misses completely.
I don’t garden any more but I used to and one of the things I enjoyed was the fact that gardening requires lots of pottering about. Gardening fast is difficult and the garden itself has an anaesthetising effect as it simply will not be hurried – your plants will grow, flower, and fall in the time they have decided. The seasons won’t change because you’re in haste.
But what other practices can help slow us down? I am trying to learn so I’ve been looking over the writings of other people mainly on the Patheos blog: Slow living — choosing an unhurried life
Pausing In the Week
It’s important to have the rhythm of 6 days work plus 1 day rest, a period of 24 hours during which we do no work. But a question I sometimes ask is “what IS work?” If I help in the kitchen (OK not often) is that work? If I read a book connected with my job, is that work? Wayne Muller’s says there are two kinds of time, “ordinary time” and “Sabbath time”…
In ordinary time, we work for our bread, for our family, for our children, our home, our fields. In Sabbath time, we see things as they are — but we do nothing to change, improve, or turn those things into something different.
In Sabbath Time, we surrender into a world without need of change. We slowly come to see the world with different eyes, fresh, and new. We see the field not as a crop to be harvested, but as a gently flowing ocean of wheat, an abundance of texture shaped by gentle breezes. We see things as they are, and marvel at their magnificence, and give thanks.
Not trying to “improve” or change things on the day of rest I find incredibly helpful. Your Sabbath doesn’t have to be a Sunday but its good if it’s the same time each week. The Theology of Work Project says:
The Sabbath rest is a regular repudiation of the covetousness for more. It is a statement to ourselves that there are other things in life besides producing and consuming. And there is more to our identity than what we do or what we produce.
Pausing In the Day
During the working day it’s too easy to always be doing, always “connected” isn’t it. Some years ago I decided every day to “walk somewhere slowly”. Sounds naïve but it’s not. This simplistic idea came from the rule of life concept — just to turn my face towards God at some point in the day.
I haven’t always done it and when I do it can be as short as a few minutes, but I know it’s good for me.…. Simply look at the sky, … “just to see”. It’s always different – always amazing in its own way.
Gill Robins: Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
This is an imperative — we are told to be still. We are finite beings, but God is infinite.
Stop — relax — empty your mind of where you are and what you’re doing (the finite) and focus on God (the infinite). You can do this any time, any place, for a moment or for a while.
Michelle Wilbert, adds that we need to …learn the art of savouring — the experiential cornerstone of being fully alive and fully acknowledging. Take joy in the mundane.
Pausing In the Moment
Listen to Christine Paintner: on the Monastic practice of how to move from one piece of work to another during your day. Rather than flying headlong down a TODO list she introduces the strangely interesting possibility of … pausing:
When we pause between activities or moments in our day, we open ourselves to the possibility of discovering a new kind of presence, to the “in-between times.“
This monastic tradition invites us into the practice of stopping one thing before beginning another. It is the acknowledgment that in the space of transition and threshold is a sacred dimension, a holy pause full of possibility. What might it be like to allow just a ten-minute window to sit in silence between appointments? Or after finishing a phone call or checking your email to take just five long, slow, deep breaths before pushing on to the next thing?
This place between is a place of stillness, where we let go of what came before and prepare ourselves to enter fully into what comes next.
(Try it) Pause right now and give yourself over to deepening your breath for five full cycles — and just notice how you feel ……
Could you offer yourself this gift of pausing before each new activity?
It is not always possible – but it is surely not impossible.
When I told my wife Alison what I was writing about she laughed out loud…. but I am learning.