I'll admit it -- when I first heard of the Slow Movement, I thought they were nuts. Certifiably, undeniably cuckoo. It's a movement advocating slowing down -- our work, they way we cook our food, the way we develop our towns and communities -- everything. At the time, I was a slightly seasoned pastor in a new call. I had a more-than-full-time job, three kids, a husband, a house to clean, and way too darn many pets -- how would I get it all done?!
But that was the point. We can't get it all done. Nor should we. But we're taught from very young to juggle too many balls, and to keep them all in the air or else.
Or else what? When I left parish ministry five years ago (in part because in all my running, I was missing the best part of my kids' childhoods), I started to slow down. Not with intention, but because I was just plain tired. And I started to explore the question, so what? What will happen if I slow down?
Here's what I learned.
There will always be things I can't get done. So the question becomes, not "How will I get it all done?" but "What am I willing to let go so I can get done the things that truly matter to me?" Jesus knew this. "For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me." (Mark 14:7) Jesus wasn't advocating for ignoring the needs of the poor. He was encouraging his followers to be fully present in the moment -- to enjoy the extravagant gift of a loving, compassionate woman, and to enjoy this, one of the disciples' last precious moments with their master.
When I'm running to do it all, I miss it all. I am always living in the past, regretting what I didn't get done, or living in the future, worried about how I'm going to get it done. Slowing down has given me the opportunity to learn the art of being present, and fully enjoy the present.
When I live in a state of moving more slowly, I am a far more patient person. I am more patient with the people I encounter each day. I do not experience road rage. I do not mind spending time in the line at the grocery store. (I don't love it, but it doesn't get me all fired up, either.) I make time to listen to people. I am available when my kids, or my kids' friends, or my kids' friends' friends come to me for advice or simply a listening ear. I make time to listen to my inner voice. I process the events of my day every day. I go to bed knowing I accomplished what I needed to accomplish, and I sleep well every night.
When I make time to listen for the voice of God, God speaks. I take the time to consider what God says to me, what God is asking of me, and how I am going to accomplish it. And it doesn't seem overwhelming because I now know how to make time for the things that matter.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Lamentations 3:24-25
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.