Slowing Down

-Patrick Keyser

Why is it that our culture operates at such a fast pace? Why do we value “being busy” so much? And perhaps most importantly, what do we miss when we live life at such a fast pace? These questions have been on my mind a lot recently. Last weekend, the Grace-on-the-Hill residents went on a retreat to Bangor, PA. I was really looking forward to it. I needed rest and some time away. I needed time to slow down. We spent a lot of time just relaxing and spending time with each other and our new friends. We also talked about the idea of being attentive to the present situation in our neighborhoods. The discussions we had that weekend have stuck with and the ideas that were tossed around have been on my mind a lot since our return. As I continue to play around with the implications of our fast culture, I realize how much our it affects our spiritual lives. What is God trying to show us that we are just too busy to notice?

I only recently noticed how uncomfortable periods of silence and stillness make me. It’s as if the world isn’t functioning properly. My default is action, movement, getting things done. Something about the stillness scares me. I always feel the need to be doing something. This feeling also translates into my prayer life. The idea of being completely still before God always sounds so enticing to me, but when I try it I always struggle.

A few weeks ago I went to Richmond Hill on a Monday evening for their Taize service. It was extremely simple. Just a few words repeated over and over. But in that time of stillness, I was able to be fully present. I was able to embrace the stillness and be fully attuned to God. I didn’t think of my to-do list or of what the next day would hold. There was something undeniably holy about that time. Celtic Spirituality speaks of “thin places”-those places where heaven and earth seem to touch. I have no doubt that that place was “thin”. It was certainly a preview of God’s kingdom: people of all races, ages, incomes, and education levels worshipping together in such a simple manner.

That experience really got me thinking about the importance of slowing down and being fully present. If we simply slow down and make an effort to pay attention, we can see God’s redeeming work in the world and our eyes are opened to the glory of God which has always been right in front of us.

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