Slowing down

It may seem counter-intuitive, but I have learned (and can even practice, spottily) to deliberately slow down when I feel as if I need to speed up.

It's easy to let anxiety about a long to-do list, or a ticking clock, or a crammed-full calendar rev my engines up to move me into a mode of "efficiency" that is, in fact, not such a good thing.  When I feel that I need to make a decision so I can tick something off the list, when I plot to figure out how to drop in on the largest number of people/books/ideas/meetings without actually engaging in any of them beyond the surface, when I feel my anxiety rising about how much I have to do, I don't need to act on that anxiety.  I'm better off, and so are the people around me, if I purposefully do not act upon that anxiety. 

Of course that doesn't mean that if something is on fire, I should deliberately slow my actions down and let it burn away while I gather my thoughts and breathe deeply.  Sometimes you gotta yell "Fire!"

But most things are not on fire.  They really aren't. 

I've spent a lot of time in the last week or so going over my calendar.  There's a lot of stuff on my calendar, and more stuff upcoming (you know, Holy Week, etc.).  Deliberately taking time to do nothing, to rest, to engage deeply, to be truly present to the people with whom I am physically present can be hard under those circumstances.  It can be hard not to have one eye on the clock, or one eye on the calendar, or one eye on the next person in line.  I do not always succeed in my effort to keep both eyes on the task or person or time at hand.

But I know it's the better response.  The better response to people, to tasks, to my vocation, to myself, to God.  There will always be more anxiety around the corner, more opportunities to rush.  No need to hurry toward them.


Perpetua said…
So true, Penny, but a hard lesson to learn, especially for many of us ministry types.
Yep, especially us ministry types!