God Is Slow

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By Anna Bonnema

We sat with a friend last weekend who upon returning from a great pilgrimage, stated, “God is slow.” His words nestled in to my brain and continue to call to me days later. 

As I forge ahead in life, trying to navigate self care that I know will make me thrive-slow is the bottom line. I’ve been thinking about and writing about, reading about and talking about the counter-cultural notion of slow living for years.  I have always had a sense that putting aside the ‘tasks’ to rest was important to me, but as I get older and learn more and more about myself, I also know that this way of life is fundamental to my happiness.

Slowing down for rest and care has bumped up against both real and perceived eye rolls and “must be nice” repeatedly throughout the past few years. And, it really is nice. Sitting under a blanket with my book for a bit before I pick up the kids or sleeping in, taking a nap, doing hot yoga-are very nice. Much nicer than the frantic running that society values. My anxiety and high sensitivity do not handle rush well.  When I have a to do list of errands and a tight timeline, I hold the steering wheel tight and my chest and stomach muscles tighter. A short time in this state and I am not only exhausted, but often not very fun to be around. 

I am learning to shed the societal pressure to achieve more. To own more, to work more, to be so busy that I can only respond with the word, “busy” when asked how I am by a friend passing by. I want to be more than busy. I want to stop and answer the question with how I really am: curious, attentive, interested, tired, relaxed…if I am being authentic, I am so much more than “busy”. 

And frankly, I’m more interested in less. Less clothing. Less items on my counter and on my dresser. Less words, more silence. Less running, more resting. Less errands, more nature. Being busy and moving fast makes me unable to listen well too. And listening well to my people, to the whisper of God, to my body is one of my greatest treasures. When I pause to ask myself why I rush, why we as a society rush, hurry, fill every second-most of the answers that come to mind are ones that yield status, prestige, likes on a screen. Those things simply do not hold the weight with me that they do in much of society. And also, they did not, nor do they currently, with God either. 

Neither God, nor his Son Jesus worried about what people would think of them, nor fretted about doing the culturally popular thing. In fact, much of the ministry of Jesus involved listening to people considered on the margins of society {the woman with hemorrhage and the woman at the well}. He took flack from many people for not falling in with the crowd {healing on the Sabbath}. He did not care about what people thought. Status was not what he sought either, God choose to send his only son to earth as a common man. He was born in a stable, crossed borders as a refugee, and lived a simple and humble existence by earthly means. God has no use for status, prestige, nor likes on a screen. 

He begs us to ‘Be still’ (Psalm 37:7) and instructs Martha that Mary, choosing to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen has chosen the better part (Luke 10:38-42). Still. Sit.  Listen. These are not words that describe rushing. God created an earth full of treasures for us to savor if only we slow enough to notice. 

What if we slowed down today, this week? 

Prayer of Teilhard de Chardin

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.