Guide to Summer: On Slowing Down
With Memorial Day approaching, we see the official start to summer kicking off for many. How my schedule suddenly became more crazy, more busy, and more full… is a mystery on par with the Trinity. Okay, maybe it’s not that mysterious… when you live a #ChooseAll life, your calendar is the keeper of those choices.
The trap we fall into sometimes is judging the success, fun, worthiness of our lives based on how full or empty the calendar remains. Sometimes in a desire to choose all, we forget that #SayingNo is included in all. The key is in the choosing… discerning… what YES is truly going to be in line with the promptings of the Holy Spirit? Have I bothered to include Him in my decision making? The Holy Who? The catch-22 is that we have to slow down in order to hear Him, in order to discern what should and shouldn’t go into the calendar… However, we cannot just stop and go on retreat whenever we need a break, we have to figure out a way to create space amid our busyness, in real time, to connect, to slow down, to encounter Jesus.
Saint Josemaria Escriva is one of my very favorite saints of all time because he is all about the ordinary! When I’m stuck feeling sorry for myself or trying to compartmentalize my spiritual life amid my busyness, JM is my dude! He is a saint for the everyday working man, woman, and child (because school work is also a thing… and chores).
“Your ordinary contact with God takes place where your fellow men, your yearnings, your work, and your affection are. There you have your daily encounter with Christ.”
Taking his ordinary, everyday advice, let’s take a look at how we can create some space for the divine, for encounter, in our everyday crazy.
Let’s take it slow,
Guide to Summer: How to Slow Down
Time can’t be slowed down--I think I’ve tried. I’m sure you’ve tried--particularly as your kindergarteners are graduating or baby girl is off to college. While time can’t be… life can. Here are five steps you can try to help slow life down.
Brewing or Boiling: Ditch the keurig and make a pot of coffee, or if you want to go even slower get a tea kettle instead of making tea in a keurig or microwave. The additional time each of these take… brewing and boiling, provide not only a time to slow down, but an opportunity to wait. To grow in patience. To take a breath. It sounds silly or a waste of time in your busy morning or afternoon, but I will tell you from experience it has increased my quiet time.
CAVEAT: Only slows down time IF you do not spend the additional minutes staring at your SmartPhone. If you Ask Aunt Katie, open your windows or curtains and use the additional time to look outside. Preferably at your new doves, Fanny + Blade. #dovetales Only grab your phone to instagram about them after the coffee or tea is done. #thestruggle
Making Phone Calls: Need a quick answer? A text has become THE way to go, but a phone call takes longer and automatically slows you down (as well as someone else who probably needs it!) The additional time this activity takes… making a phone call, provides not only a time to slow down, but an opportunity to wait. To grow in patience. To connect. To encounter. How often we run around texting with one hand while pushing the buttons on our keurig, one shoe on (because we can’t find the other one, or anything when we are already late) holding our microwavable waffle in our mouths? As humans, we have a need for community. One way we build that community is actually hearing the voices of other humans--if you’re just hearing voices, that is a different issue not addressed in this blog. Even if the phone call lasts a minute or 5 minutes… what a more pleasant way to get our questions answered! Otherwise we would have spent at least 5 minutes checking our phone, checking our phone, did they respond yet? maybe my phone is on silent, checking, nothing, JOY! There is my notification finally… and it reads, “K.” ARGH!!!!
Reading a Book: Like a book book. With a cover and everything! My commentary on reading real books, purchased from a real store with a real human here, in Guide to Summer: Creating a Summer Reading List. The additional time this activity takes… shopping for and reading a real book, provides not only a time to slow down, but an opportunity to wait, perhaps in a line… to physically walk around a store, and perhaps interact with actual humans. To grow in patience. To connect. To contribute to your local economy. Not to mention, encountering Truth + Beauty in the text!
Writing a Letter: Perhaps you’ve heard of it--it’s called mail. We love getting mail that is not a bill or advertisement for something else that we know is going to end up becoming another bill. Something makes our heart jump when we see our names written in the hand of a loved one or a party hostess. The additional time this activity takes… writing a letter, provides not only a time to slow down, but an opportunity to bless someone else. To connect. To provide an encounter. And if you ask them to write back… a time to grow in patience. Your letter doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be thoughtful. Hate your handwriting? This activity provides practice. Can’t find the words? Even getting a thoughtful card from the store works as a slow-down activity. Again, that’s the whole “go to a physical building where there are people and interact with them” piece. All you have to provide for a premade card is a little xoxo at the bottom. So thoughtful, and so little ink wasted!
Screen-Free Time: Turning off the TV, IPad, Gaming Device, Computer, etc. slows us down… soooooo slow. The additional time this activity takes… intentional screen-free time, provides not only a time to slow down, but actual time. Suddenly, we have so much time. What are we going to do with all of this time?! First, we must acknowledge that we don’t always love free time. It provides way too much time to think. Second, we must acknowledge that we don’t always love free time. It provides way too much time to think. It’s like Fight Club in that way, we don’t want to talk about it. When we are “busy” or “too busy” we don’t have time to think about the dreams we’ve put on hold, the mistakes we’ve made, the general judgment about our minds, hearts, and bodies… We love being busy because it feels purposeful. We feel needed. We feel important. If we stop--we may actually feel the loneliness (and I’m not speaking for single people here--the loneliness you experience in your marriage, parenting, even being tugged at by too many little hands). When we stop we have to acknowledge where we’re drowning, that it has really been a couple of weeks since we prayed, and that we don’t like the neverending treadmill our lives have become.
[NOTE: Taking purposeful time to be screen-free means not reading this blog, but I’m willing to take one for the team. Need some real motivation to break free from your SmartPhone? We will be starting a 21-Day Summer #SmartFreedom Challenge on July 11th! Stay tuned for more details.]
When we slow down we have an opportunity to actually contemplate God… we can have an encounter…
“Faced with the marvels of God, and with all of our human failures, we have to make this admission: ‘You are everything to me. Use me as you wish!’ Then there will be no more loneliness for you--for us.”