catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 11, Num 13 :: 2012.06.22 — 2012.07.05


Permission to slow down

In a fast food nation, there is an elephant lurking in the room and its name is Busyness.  I find this elephant very present in the parenting realm. Have you ever been asked if you are busy and answered, no? The response is often one of subtle disdain, as if a slow pace is a luxury no one should be able to afford. Emphasizing how busy we are proves to others that we strive, we work hard and, therefore, we are important.

The cover of any magazine reveals that people long for more time. We diligently study condensing, maximizing, organizing and multi-tasking.  If we spoke with complete honesty, we might admit that while we say we want a slower pace, we are uncomfortable with it. We fill in all the lines, choke ourselves with lists, and leave no empty spaces to breath. This perpetual movement does not allow any unease to settle into our spirits. We are too busy to linger on anything uncomfortable or challenging.

In doing so, we stifle our capacity to dream.  We stunt our ability to grow deeper and to listen to God’s voice in our hearts.  We leave no space to meet the needs of others that might arise unexpectedly. We leave ourselves exhausted, worn and with nothing left to give to one another.  This is the lesson we teach our children.

In a fast food nation, there remains much pressure to give our children the very best. Lessons for art, drama, sports, dance, and science begin at the very youngest ages.  We feel pressure to provide them with cultural experiences. We rush from appointment, to play date, to story time, to lesson at a frantic pace. All these things in and of themselves are valuable and good, but not when piled atop one other in a tower of striving.

Our fast food nation is one that desperately needs compassion. Move against the grain of society and give yourself and your family permission not to be busy.  Perhaps our childhood memories of slow times can provide inspiration.  Mine include: family bike rides over miles of rail trail, the passing hours of road trips, reading Little House on the Prairie on summer evenings, jumping rocks in the back field with the neighborhood kids, and lying in a clump of daisies with my dog watching clouds move overhead.

My most vivid memories of my own children growing up include spinning them around in the waters of Lake Michigan, reading stacks of books, hiking through the forest, mixing dough at the countertop, racing cars and putting on Barbie plays.

My youngest will begin kindergarten in the fall. I have been trying to remember the moments we have shared over the last five years. This spring we walked the eight blocks to the library. On the way home, he held my hand and with the other hand pulled an enormous tree branch down the sidewalk. The going was painstakingly slow, but I archived the memory. It will remain a favorite.

Grace is permission not to be busy constantly.

Slowing down does not make you less important.

Slowing down does not mean you do not work hard.

Slowing down is courageous.

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