Fast Times, Slow Faith

“The great benefit of slowing down is reclaiming the time and tranquility to make meaningful connections — with people, with culture, with work, with nature, with our own bodies and minds.”
                                 Carl Honoré, In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed

Landscape_ Window Overlooking the Woods

by Ed Horstmann

Some years ago I was playing tennis with a friend and he made an observation about my game: “You look like you are rushing all your shots,” he said. “Maybe you have more time than you think you have.”

He was on to something. Since that day, on the tennis court and in other areas of my life, I have tried to be aware of a deeply entrenched instinct to rush things. Hans Rosling, a Swedish physician, academic, statistician, and public speaker, called this the urgency instinct, and sometimes it has great value. If I require the immediate intervention of an Emergency Medical Technician, I want that person to act quickly and decisively. On a much larger scale, planet earth is stressed out from centuries of human abuse, and the time is now for healing those wounds.

But even where urgent action is required, it is not wise to be rushed or hasty. The times when we feel that we have no time may be precisely the times when we most need to slow things down as much as possible; to think clearly and explore the options available to us before choosing a course of action. I believe that for a majority of the time available to us we have time, and can take time, and can make time to nurture our relationships and make good decisions. Because when we are not rushed we are more relaxed, and can enjoy what we are doing, and can experience time as a gift to be received rather than an obstacle to be overcome.

I think that fast times call for a slow faith: time to simmer and savor, ponder and pray. So when I’m out for a walk and find myself rushing along without looking around, I slow down, or stop altogether, and listen. What is nature saying to me? What is God saying to me through the lavish abundance of that world?

Fast times call for a slow faith: a faith that can call me to slow down my instincts to judge others too quickly or harshly, to rush to form an opinion before considering the facts in play, or to respond with roiling emotions when other alternatives (deep breathing!) are available.  Maybe slow faith is the antidote to road rage!

I’ve been reading my way through the biblical book of the Gospel of Mark: one verse per day. That gives me time to memorize the words so they can linger with me as I move through my daily responsibilities.

When I feel like I’m out of time, that’s a cue to slow the day down, to realize that I might have more time than I think I have. And even though the future of the planet is in peril, I am taking time to talk and think with others about the best way to dedicate my energy and resources to positive and impactful change.

“Much better to do fewer things and have time to make the most of them,” writes Carl Honoré.   For those who seek deeper connections with God, with others, with themselves, fast times call for a slow faith.

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