DAY 47: Monday 4 May
Good morning all
The present situation is teaching us all to slow down. For more than 70 years, my life seems to have been accelerating – occasionally slowing down for a brief pause before taking off again with renewed energy.
Two weeks ago, we included a message written by Christian author Jeff Lucas. Here’s another of his chapters entitled ‘Slow Down’.
I stared at the envelope and tried to halt the rising of feeling of dread sinking in my stomach. Adorning one corner of the stern brown stationary was the logo of the local Constabulary. Meldrew-like. I could not believe it, I had been caught speeding again, the hapless target of another speed camera. I won't make light of my crime - speeding kills people, and I was guilty. Never mind that I was only 4 mph over the limit - I was speeding.
Last time it happened I was forced to attend the speed awareness course. A sorry, ashamed-looking group shuffled into a room for a 3-hour event designed to show us just have devastating speed can be. I actually rather enjoyed the experience and even stayed behind afterwards to thank the instructor for a good evening. He responded by looking at me as if I was quite mad. I graduated from the course (which was no great achievement, because all you have to do is show up), and vowed that I'd slow down (a pledge that I clearly couldn't honour, given the arrival of this latest sad, brown envelope).
I live my life at speed. I eat quickly, I can't think why. Savouring the flavours of food has never been my style. I wish I could say that I was raised in a large, hungry family, where if you didn't eat your chicken quickly, it would be snatched off your plate - but that just isn't true. I just race through my food, because I race through everything. I speed-read, preferring to skim over sentences rather than fully digest the words. I multi- task, steam through to-do lists, and fume in rush-hour traffic jams, where congestion means that the one thing you can't do is rush. I get things done, so that I can get on to the next thing. But there's always something else to do, somewhere else to go, some other experience that demands that, whatever I am doing, it won't be for long.
Lately I've been asking myself: why the haste? Rushing is an unconscious habit, and one that's hard to break. I dash without thinking. I don't have to be late, under pressure, or behind schedule in order to be in a hurry. Slowing down takes conscious effort. In a world of fast food and high-speed Wi-Fi, it's easy just to go with the flow, even if the flow is a torrent rather than a trickle.
And then I rush, simply because I always have. It's my default setting. I've no idea how long my mother was in labour when I came into the world, but I do know that I arrived early - very prematurely. Perhaps I took minutes rather than hours to make my appearance, and having received a slap from the midwife, I proceeded to ask when school would be starting?
Then there's the subtle pressure to be busy, because haste offers proof that we are in demand; that those who need us need must get in line or take a number.
Why is slowing down so hard? When I relax, I feel guilty. Going on holiday takes serious mental and emotional preparation. Suddenly finding myself without activity and the rush created by rushing, I can spiral down into vague depressiveness, enduring rather than enjoying those lazy days of sunshine.
But as the speed-awareness course demonstrated with horrifying illustrations, speed is truly devastating, and not just on the roads. I've made super-swift decisions that proved to be disastrous, and many messes that could have been prevented if I’d paused. I've wasted too many beautiful moments because I've not been fully present in them, quickly dashing on to the next thing, thinking it would be better (which it invariably isn't). Life lived like that becomes something to get through, rather than an experience to savour.
If I want to become more like Jesus, then a better rhythm won't be a luxury, but a necessity. He knew how to say no; at times he evaded the madding crowds and commanded his friends to come apart for a while, presumably so that they wouldn't fall apart.
So, wish me well as I make my attempt at slowing down. Meanwhile, I've got to go. Must get on, or… well… maybe not…
Isaiah 40:31 - But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Psalm 27:14 - Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Matthew 11:28-29 - Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
There are a number of TV programmes that explore the lives of successful people who have succeeded in the race of modern life, achieved success and live in comfortable situations, yet have a desire to leave all that and make a new life that is slower and quieter in a new place in the country or a new life in some remote location. They desire the opportunity to ‘slow down’.
Although the media and many people in our country are complaining and even rebelling against lockdown and desperate to get back to life as it was, all our lives have been forced to slow down through theses unprecedented circumstances. Perhaps rather than complaining about the situation, we should be thanking God for giving us this unplanned and unexpected opportunity to slow down our otherwise hectic lives.
When we are rushed and feeling stressed, for fast-acting relief, try slowing down.
Suggestion for Hymnalong today >>> BE STILL FOR THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD
MAKE YOU SMILE: FUNNY WISDOM
Live out of your imagination not your history
Never try to walk across a river just because it has an average depth of four feet
Saying no offense doesn't make you less offensive
Choose a job you love, and you'll never have to work a day in your life
Here’s another entertaining video from Jack Jennings. Children sit down for their school lunch and are stunned at what happens next… >>>
Enjoy some peace and calm in this day by staying home and washing your hands!