Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Slow food, slow church, slow reading, slow knitting.

I read this article this morning and it really struck a chord with things that I have been thinking about.  I acknowledge that his choice (5  hours a day of writing and then leisure to see friends) is a choice of privilege and  not a choice many can make.  But his point about slowing down, being in relationship with people and just being fully present is really good.
This weekend, we went with our new church to a beautiful retreat center in the foothills of some mountains in Oregon.  It was a small group-mostly families with young children.  On our second day, we went to a park and hiked down to some waterfalls.  The trail was made so that you could actually walk behind the waterfalls.  After that hike, many people went back but we hiked around the loop to another waterfall that you could also walk behind.  I had no camera to even take pictures.  I just thought a lot about being fully in that moment-that moment of being in creation, of beauty, of nature.  Slow living allows you to do those things.
Our lives have always been very busy.  The three years in China, the year and a half of preparing to be in China, the six years of planting and watering the international church while raising a family and being a graduate student, seminary and back.  There has always been someone to see, something to do, an obligation to meet.
Now we find ourselves at a slower pace in a beautiful place. Psalm 16 says

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
(Psalm 16:6 ESV)

We have the privilege of getting to know people in our church at this pace. Our commitment is to people, not programs.  Paul spoke this weekend at our retreat about the marriage feast of the lamb.  He used the movie "Babette's Feast" as an example of people who were living good lives but without the richness and fullness that we are called to as followers of Jesus Christ.  When Babette makes the feast for them, they are determined not to enjoy it.  But slowly, their hearts and appetites succumb to the delight of the feast.  They become joyful, relaxing and forgiving those with whom they have small and petty grievances.  They truly participate in the feast.  
The Bible is full of images of feasting.  Early in our marriage, I set a priority of eating a meal together every night. Growing up, my family always ate together and I carried that into our marriage.  Before we had Elisabeth, it was often on the sofa but it was together.  We have always done that and I believe that it is important. Meals are where great conversations happen, jokes are told and family stories revealed.  Now that we are about to be empty nesters, I still believe it is important for the two of us to gather around the table for a meal.  We are family, even if only two.
Slowing down has given me time to really read.  Two great books that I have recently read are In this House of Brede by Rumer Godden and Leaving Church by Barbara Taylor Brown.  In this House of Brede is an older book of fiction, taking place in the 1950's/60's.  It is about a woman who joins a Benedictine order after suffering a great loss in her life.  The pictures of each sister are really wonderful and you really get a sense of the individuality of each one.  The story line is excellent with many quiet little twists and turns.  I may have read this when I was much younger and I'd like to read it again, as well as other Rumer Godden books.\
Leaving Church is about an Episcopalian priest who leaves her church and the priesthood.  Barbara Taylor Brown's theology is a little left of what I consider orthodoxy but she has many powerful things to say about the division of the sacred and the secular and the role of the priest/pastor.  I am also reading her book An Altar to the World and really liking it.
I am a very slow knitter. I've often thought that I should check Youtube for tips on how to knit more quickly.  But the truth is, I like the process of knitting and if it's slow, it's slow.
Feasting, relationships, reading, knitting...that is part of the picture of our life today.  Slowing down has also given me the time to grieve our losses-our sweet little foster son, our life in China.  It's important to walk through the pain of those things slowly, so that we really work them through.
Slowing down doesn't mean not being engaged or being lazy.  It means being fully present and fully aware.  It's a good place to be in right now as we weave our new life.


  1. Amen! I love our slower pace of gives us more time to connect with those around us and with Him.

  2. I read the Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden sometime when I was in Jr. High. I think I still have that yellowed copy somewhere.