Patheos Public Square is hosting a panel discussion on “Slow Living: Choosing an Unhurried Life.” You may find something of interest there to help you launch your summer. The ten panelists come from multiple faith traditions and a variety of cultural settings and so have unique insights as to what it means to slow down.
My friend Denise Frame Harlan has a piece (“They Say It Goes Fast But I’m Not So Sure") about the need to withdraw and take a slow pace in order to meet the needs of her children, and how that pace has had unseen benefits in her spiritual and writing life although at a professional and financial cost. (By the way, Denise is currently working on a book about her family’s story of finding affordable living in New England. I’ve read a chapter; it’s wonderful.)
“I owe a great deal to that earlier mom-training in solitude. I needed to step away from the social buzz, to step toward my family, and myself. It was hard, every day, but it crystallized my desire to connect more deeply through writing. The Quiet Hour became a life practice, a form of prayer. Writing became a form of prayer. I would not have chosen this path had I dawdled at those beautiful parties, talking.”
In “The Hope of Slow Living,” Chris Smith, co-author with John Pattison of Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus, writes that their book grew out of “the conviction that the Christian tradition had theology and practices with the potential to form Christian communities that could offer a meaningful and compelling alternative to fast culture.”
Christine Valters Paintner, from Abbey of the Arts, calls our attention to “in-between times” in “The Practice of the Holy Pause.” I love this concept: taking 10 minutes or 5 long breaths or allowing some threshold of pause between activities.
“The holy pause calls us to a sense of reverence for slowness, for mindfulness, and for the fertile dark spaces between our goals where we can pause and center ourselves, and listen. We can open up a space within for God to work. We can become fully conscious of what we are about to do rather than mindlessly completing another task.”
Michelle Wilbert writes about savoring. In “Coming to Our Senses: Savoring as Spiritual Practice," Wilbert shares what she’s learned from poet Mary Oliver about cultivating “a way of life that daily brings one to the threshold of joy.” About the practice of savoring, Wilbert writes:
“Unattached to an ideology or a particular religious expression, it's the spiritual practice of being fully alive and relishing the experience for exactly that; it's a practice of "enough" — it is enough to be here and to feel the presence of life in our bodies. Savoring is the experiential cornerstone of being fully alive and fully acknowledging and taking joy in the mundane….”
If you want to read more from the panel during a pause in your day, here’s the link.
[Photo: taken of a spot on the shore of Lake Superior at Gooseberry Falls State Park, at which my oldest son sat – on the second rock ledge down – and played guitar once long ago during a family camping trip. A beautiful pause; savoring the memory.]