Our Western culture applauds people: who have crazy busy schedules, who multitask (even when behind the wheel in traffic), who frantically race from one commitment to another, who ‘never sleep,’ who proudly confess, ‘My hair’s on fire.’ These caffeine-wired over-achievers earn cultural gold stars for performance and have the utmost respect of fellow hamsters running on neighboring wheels (but we don’t want to be them). One has to wonder when these extremes came to be in vogue, who decided this lifestyle was either good or necessary or sustainable, what long term results have reinforced the madness.
A mantra for a different pace of life is: ‘pay attention to what you’re paying attention to.’ The above norm of our society leaves no time for such introspection, indeed, would mock such a waste of time. We might respectfully ask if a slowing down is a ‘waste’ or an investment. We might also ask if capitalizing on each precious, lived moment, being truly present to people and circumstances (which requires a pulling away from the noise of what is considered to be the joy of modern living) isn’t a healthier choice.
We were created to give and receive love in the context of relationship. The Holy Trinity is, itself, a community of mutual, loving relationship, and the community into which we have received an invitation. Psalm 23’s picture of still waters and green spaces provides a slow-down-to-fully-live image. Jesus’ invitation to come away with him, to watch how he lives, to learn the unforced rhythms of grace, is an ongoing invitation to a weary world. There, in the quiet, the stillness, the single, restful focus of time away with him, we re-discover our soul’s longing for love, for his Love. It is where we were designed to live. It is where our focus becomes clear, where the world is seen, maybe for the first time ever, as upside-down. It is where people are recognized as treasures and not just objects, where they enrich our lives and we theirs, where fellowship and hospitality blossom, where our hearts are set at peace within us.
One of author, Dallas Willard’s many pithy statements is: ‘Ruthlessly eliminate hurry.” He’s been with Jesus now for 10 years and his wisdom is still ringing urgently today. A corollary to that might be ‘less is more.’ Trimming excess, finding contentment in the presence of Jesus and his family, responding to his invitation to come further up and further in, encountering an abundance of joy, experiencing the baptism, the filling, of the Holy Spirit may be what centers us, what opens the eyes of our hearts, what brings us fully alive. It may also be what causes the many beleaguered souls around us to ask about the key to our great joy. And since we have time, we’ll be able to tell them. PD