Articles

Slower

In Family and Marriage, Spiritual Practices, The Journey on January 5, 2013 by scottsund Tagged: ,

“We are facing an enormous problem in our lives today.
It’s so big we can hardly see it, and it’s right in front of our face all day, every day.
We’re all living too big lives, crammed form top to toe with activities, urgencies, and obligations that seem absolute.
There’s no time to take a breath, no time to look for the source of the problem.”
-Sarah Susanka, “The Not So Big Life”

ImageHappy New Year.  It’s been a season of silence on this blog.  Though things have been busy over the last month, mostly I needed some quiet for a while.  It’s convicting as a storyteller and a blogger at times when the question arises: do I have anything to say to the world?  Am I “living” these things out?

It seems December gets busier each year as a family.  Despite the best intentions, it’s just a busy, busy month.  There is all the kid stuff at school and performances and recitals and parties.  I was fortunate enough to travel to Mexico to perform the wedding of two beautiful people.  And every day we celebrated an advent activity or spiritual practice to fill the season with meaning.  And it was a great month…but just very, very full.

We hosted both of our families for Christmas meals and gift openings and that was a real treat and our month was supposed to culminate in a cabin rental in the mountains above Cle Elum for 4 days of rest, snow and sledding, and down time as a family.  But the evening before leaving for the cabin, Heather came down sick (her second significant throwing up experience in 10 days).  Over the course of the night she threw up over and over again.  And then my oldest son got it and the two of them puked threw the night.  And then my daughter noticed our dog was bleeding…bad.  She had an exploded anal gland (yep, you read that correctly).  In the next morning of chaos, I was running around cleaning up garbage cans of vomit and cleaning the carpet of blood stains and calling the vet and opening a few of the presents that my parents had brought for the kids and just full of so much anxiety.  It became clear as the sickness lingered all day and the dog needed more significant care, we were not going to make it to our cabin rental.  Luckily, the cabin owners allowed us to use the cabin later in the spring and all of a sudden, our plans were cancelled and we had the next few days to rest, recuperate, and stay home.  3 days with nothing planned.

Sadly, my mind started to instantly go towards: “okay what should we do.”  I texted friends, made plans with the kids to make up for the disappoint of not going to cabin, and started to plot day by day how to fill the next few days.

Luckily my wife, from the sick bed she hadn’t been able to rise from for a day, held up a metaphorical mirror.  “Scott why are you trying so hard to fill in the time with stuff?  Can’t we just slow down?”

Yeah Scott, can’t you just slow down?  The answer, unfortunately in that minute, was no.  No, it’s hard to slow down.  I become adept at going and doing and accomplishing and checking things off a list and so when I need to slow down I don’t know what to do.  But over the course of that day, and the days that followed , I’ve been hearing the words of my wife- can’t we just slow down?  And this has turned into a prayer: slow me down Lord.  Slow me down.

“Sometimes it takes a wake up call to realize

we are living the fast life,

not the good life.”

-Carl Honore

Recently Carl Honore wrote a book about slow parenting and gave this TED talk about the value of slowness.  There is much to like about this talk, and I’ve now got Honore’s book on my reading list for this year, but what stuck out the most is that we shouldn’t just race through your life- we should LIVE it.  And living life intentionally, as a parent or as just a person, happens when we slow down.  When we stop looking at time as linear and wanting to move quickly through it…but as a cycle that we get to enjoy the rhythm and ritual of each day.  For it was Aesop that wrote, “Slow and steady wins the race.”  We all know how the children’s fable of the Tortoise and the Hare ends, but then why do I often live like that crazy rabbit….running as fast as I can.

The pace of life becomes unbearable.  We need to slow down.

I was reading in the book of 1 Samuel an amazing story of slowing down.  As you may remember, Samuel was a boy who worked in the temple in Israel and had been dedicated for a life of service to the Lord.  But though he served the priest Eli, he didn’t know the Lord personally yet.  God spoke to Samuel in a dream by calling his name “Samuel, Samuel!” three times and each time Samuel ran to the priest Eli and thought he was paging him.  Finally Eli realized Samuel was hearing from the Lord and Eli gave Samuel these instructions:  “Go lie down and it shall be if He calls you, that you shall say,  “Speak Lord for your servant is listening.”  True enough, Samuel heard from God again, and this time instead of running, Samuel said: “Here am I Lord.  Here am I.”  And God spoke to Samuel personally for the first time in his life.  How do we hear from God when we never slow down?

Lately I’ve been hearing of people choosing 1 word “slogans” for the year ahead.  The idea is that this word is both a goal and an anchor for the year, a thought to pray and meditate on. Though I’m not ready to commit that this is the singular word I will dwell on this year, I think the word I’m stuck with right now for 2013 is SLOWER.   Slower.  Slower.  In a frenzied world of pace and progress, slow me down O Lord, slow me down.  How else do we get formed than waiting at the workbench- showing up with the Maker?  How else do we form our families than slowly being together?Please know, this is a hope, and not a finished product. Slow me down Lord.  Slow me down.

Here’s a verse for you: “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, the person who seeks Him.
It is good that he waits silently.
For the salvation of the Lord….
“Let us examine our ways
And let us return to the Lord,
We lift up our hearts and hands
Toward God in heaven.”
-Lamentations 3: 25-26,40

Here’s a theme song for you on this new journey of slowing down:

Slow me down, O Lord, slow me down
Help my heart to hear Your sound
Speak into my life, Lord speak now
Slow me down O Lord, slow me down
Clear my mind, O Lord, clear my mind
Bring me peace that I cannot find
Take my worried thoughts break my pride
Clear my mind, O Lord, clear my mind
Wake my soul, O Lord, wake my soul
With this mess I’ve made make me whole
Of this life called mine, take control
Wake my soul, O Lord, wake my soul
Slow me down, O Lord, slow me down
Help my heart to hear Your sound
Speak into my life, Lord, speak now
Slow me down Lord.

Yes Lord, this year, S L O W   M E  D O W N.

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3 Responses to “Slower”

  1. Nice, Scott. I was thrilled inwardly when I read the words ” and the Lord spoke personally to Samuel for the first time”. It’s an experience I’ve been moving too fast for, lately. Thank you for the reminder.

  2. WOW. What a significant reminder to overcome “The Tyranny of the Urgent”!
    Scott, this is the perfect blog for all of us believers as we go into the new year.
    A perfect admonition rising up from the ashes of stressful circumstances, but isn’t that often where great writing is forged? Absolutely LOVE your gift for communicating, whether it’s from the fast bunny track or the slower, more intentional tortoise trail. God bless you, your awesome family, and your writing gift in 2013.

  3. Oh my goodness Scott, this is so great. In my case, it has been Abrielle asking me “when are we just gonna have a day to stay at home.?” Ever since our crazy trip to Arizona which consisted of being involved in a head-on collision, being stuck in the desert with my in-laws and a host of other intense moments, I think the girl knew we all just needed to slow down. Not being fond of or finding it easy to just “be at home” I totally needed to be reminded of the value of slowing down. I’ll have to check out that book, and thank you for driving home the importance of not doing, but “being.”

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