July 29, 2013

When summer is just around the corner, we look forward to having more time for refreshment and renewal. The hot days seem conducive to a more leisurely pace, with thoughts of vacations, lounge chairs with an iced tea or lemonade in hand, losing ourselves in a good book, or spending more time in prayer and growing closer to God. Often though, with the modern conveniences of air conditioning and technology, life seems to move on as briskly as usual. Work continues and our lives stay just as busy, although part of the busyness may shift to activity filled vacations, family visits, and catching up on projects we could not accomplish during the year.

All good things, and yet…where is that time we promised to read some good books, dig our spiritual wells deeper, listen more closely to God’s call in our lives? How can we slow down, build energy and vision for the year ahead, tap into the deep reservoir of God’s peace, power and wisdom? If it is not now, then when will we take that time?

Last year I had an experience that helped me to know the value of slowing down and taking time to pray and replenish my energy. There had been several months filled with stress and I was feeling very drained. We have a beach cottage on the west coast and we went there to spend a few days. I went to relax on an upstairs porch and noticed a dove sitting on her nest on one of the beams above me. She seemed unafraid so I stayed where I was. Every day I spent quiet time on that balcony. The dove was there every day too, sitting quietly. I began to relax and feel myself again and it was as though she was teaching me what was important – a simple dove, one of God’s creatures.

In Carl Honore’s book, In Praise of Slowness, he talks about the importance of decelerating
from life in the fast lane and taking time to slow down. He describes a Slow philosophy which is gaining ground worldwide against the frenetic pace of everyday life. It does not just mean just giving up and being slothful, but being deliberate with our time and learning what is important and healthy for our wellbeing.

Finding spiritual growth, discovering new insights or becoming more centered once again is difficult to achieve as we race down life’s highway. We cannot produce ourselves what we are meant to receive from God. Jesus hit this point home when he was visiting sisters Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42). Martha was rushing around, concerned about all of the details of the dinner she was preparing while Mary sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he was teaching. He told her that Mary was doing what was truly important, not to diminish Martha, but to show her that what is most valuable we receive from him. It is in the contemplative, quieter times that we will find the renewal and transformation we seek.

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