Forced Slowing

Country Road 

Could it be that Americans are being forced to slow down? I think of the gas prices–I know I think twice about venturing out, and consolidate my errand running into as few outings as possible. I’m sure this approach is spreading to businesses and non-profits as well. People are going to start walking more, biking more, working from home more, planning ahead more…maybe a less frenetic pace is acomin’.

Then there is the aging process. Talk about forced slowing. :-) As the frantic, ever productive Boomers spin into their sixties America is going to slow down, because they are going to slow down. They will kick and scream the whole way, but they will slow down. As physical abilities wane, more time will be spent in reflection, coffee chats, in just being…

Also, I’m pleasantly surprised to see so many stay at home moms on my college alumni page. Women with bachelor’s degrees staying home to raise their children, makes me smile and gives me hope for the next fifty years. Are they being forced to stay home? Nah, I have a feeling they are choosing it, by and large, for the sake of their children. I suppose some people may see this as a waste of a good education, but then they are the ones without that education (or are Boomers, or Boomer wannabes) and cannot see… Attentive stay at home moms are providing their children with a slower, more secure, child friendly pace of life–less stressed children, less stressed American future…imagine that!

Is there a benefit to all of this, spiritually speaking? If any of this is true, is God pleased? Well, I think so. Personally, I\’ve lived the rat race and found that it eats me alive. My mind goes a bazillion miles an hour, the “to do” list only gets longer and there is no peace, no quiet, no still small voice. All is present, in my face and screaming my name. It is like it has me by the throat and won’t let go, I’m at its mercy.

What if we slow down? What will we lose? Well, I suppose the economy won’t be quite as robust. We recoil in horror at that notion, yet at what point do we stop growing economically? Is it always more and more and more? Or, can we find a place to land and be happy there? Is there such a thing as an economic “home”? Or, maybe the economy will keep growing and the ways that it grows will require less energy and time from us…nice thought there. Could the internet be a piece to that puzzle…no commute time, no commute gas, work at your own pace, etc. Hmmm…well, I guess we’ll know soon enough…

What do we gain if we slow down? In the past five years I’ve gone from moving at my own pace to rat race to slowing again, so I can share my experience with you. For me, slowing down involves a quieting of the mind and invites a place for peace…I’m less stressed. I find there is room for God, and God can be heard and known. That still, small voice the Bible mentions is real and requires our attention and often requires a still mind, an attentive mind. Relationship takes on new importance: people, not tasks, move to the top of the list. I “get” to look in the mirror and see the person there, warts and all. For some, this very reason is why they keep going a million miles an hour…they don’t want to deal with their past or the person they’ve become–self hatred and shame echo through their heart’s halls. I’ve got my fair share of self-hatred and shame, but when I slow down there is no skirting it, and then I invite God to come and heal it, heal me.

The rat race? Just the opposite, really. Full mind, time taken, no peace, no rest, gotta keep all the balls in the air–all and everyone is kept at an arm’s length, yet all and everyone is why I do what I do. I’m productive in a worldly sense, but die spiritually. I cannot hear God, relationships ebb, “stress” is the word of the day and I’m “beside myself”…yeah, not present, not ‘here’ but forever in the future, thinking of the next thing as I’m in the midst of whatever is right now.

Jesus, in the New Testament, is seen time and again leaving the crowds, the towns, the disciples and going to the mountains or the hills by Himself to get away, to pray, to be with God. I think He understands from first hand experience the demands people and circumstances impose. I think, too, that He understands that the pace of life can take us for a ride if we don’t grab the wheel and hit the brake. I think silence, prayer and solitude are considered spiritual disciplines because they don’t come naturally, aren’t the way of the world. We have to discipline ourselves in order to make them a reality. In doing so, we find God. In doing so, we sprout spiritually, we grow relationally, we heal, we become other, we wonder why we ever wanted otherwise. We invite God into the space we create and He comes and takes up abode and cleans house, goes into home improvement mode, waters the plants. We begin to sparkle from the inside out and life looks different, is different, because we’re different.

So, are you experiencing a forced slowing of life? Is the aging process winking your way? Has disease or injury landed you on your back, or made you wonder? Does the bank account keep you at home? I think it is okay. It may be that it is divinely ordered so that you can invite God into your life in a new and more intimate way. Slow down, pray, see what happens…

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