Enough about politics, the economy, the state of our world. This message is about something far more serious! This message is about the seasonal rush.
WAIT! Don’t hang up.
It’s cliché, I know. But then again, so is Jimmy Stewart’s It’s A Wonderful Life, and that’s something you have to watch every year, too. So here is this year’s take on this “time of the year”.
For some it’s Christmas. For others, it’s something else. But really, it affects pretty much everybody – doesn’t matter if you are religious or not. We are all swimming in the same stream after all.
The roots of both secular and religious seasonal traditions reflect a real desire to get people to slow down and focus. A nice thought, but it has been some time that this does not come to us peacefully in the night – all zen-like and everything. It comes front and center: Thunder in the distance like train on the edge of town, to borrow a phrase from Robin Marks. We struggle to slow down and focus. And many of us blame the pace of life for that. We say the pace of life makes us tired and that’s why we can’t focus.
Which leads me to an important question (I think, anyway). For all the talk that we share about being too rushed and too busy and all of “that stuff”, has it ever occurred to you that it takes far less energy to be busy than it takes to be “not busy”?
Have you ever thought about how much work it takes to wait and be patient?
Slowing down is not a way of being that comes naturally to us any more. I would add that it actually takes skill and discipline and that these are things that are acquired. The desire is there – who after all doesn’t wish to be at peace? But the ability to actually be at rest in waiting without stressing out is not so easy – even though we like to tell ourselves it would be easy – if only we didn’t have so much to do. That’s a lie we often tell ourselves. The truth is that slowing down is not an easy thing to do – practically or spiritually.
Think about that for a second …. or two…… or ten.
Why? Why is it that something that seems so simple and so desirable is not so easy? Obviously, there isn’t one answer to that question. But I asked it, so I owe you an answer, even if only to get the ball rolling.
First, I think that basic psychology tells us that without a clear purpose, developing a skill is difficult. That’s as simple as the grade school student asking the teacher – why do I need to know this anyway? And in the whirlwind of our lives, it is not so easy know the longer term purpose of what we are doing in our lives. We are left just doing our best day to day, and that is part of our anxiety. So while we know in general that we need to slow down, knowing precisely where and when to slow down is less than clear.
Second, sitting still too long will inevitably lead us to focusing on the the parts of our lives that are not going so well. We all have had, are having, or fear having these parts of our lives. So it’s hard to sit with because none of us wants to dwell on these things. Dwelling on them is not good for us. Frankly, it’s easier to run from them even if running from them isn’t good for us either.
So put these things together (difficult search for purpose -the fear of dwelling – the desire to run), and you have a recipe to move faster and faster. Fast enough eventually that it takes a lot of work to slow down.
Can you feel your brakes over heating? It takes a sense of hope to face it all.
For all cultures this season is about some form of Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Human Kind. And I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that we know so much about the state of the world that it is difficult to sit still with that. Without being a downer, you could be forgiven for thinking that these things are in short supply right now. Which is why I don’t want to dwell on it too much right now. And I don’t want to run from it either. Instead, I want to lead you to hope.
How is it that we might learn? I am sure that my answer will not surprise you.
So…. if you are reading this still and the idea of learning how to better slow down is making sense to you – I would like to invite you to look into attending a church in your area that understands these things. If you are a member of such a church and know someone who is struggling to slow down, invite them to join you – offer to pick them up and drive them as a gift, or something like that.
It’s not about the “religion” so much as it’s about the community. It’s not about creating classes or programs to teach things. It’s about the experience of what I call “balanced inter-generational living” and it has all kinds of benefits that you can’t buy in a bottle.
That’s just a fancy word for “take an hour each week just to be still and be with others who want the same for their souls.” More than anything I know, it smooths out the kinks that life can create. Think of it as building a natural filter the helps you not stress about what’s really not worth stressing about so you can tend to what really needs your attention. And it’s not before long that we face life better.
Things like that are contagious. They tend to rub off in a good way.
Have a great day.
— from Rev. Eric Lukacs blog Not So Idle Thoughts