Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Contemplation and slowing down life

I’ve been thinking a lot about contemplation and slowing down on life. Lynne has written about this in her reflections on the CIRCE conference.

As I was writing a while ago about how much I enjoy naps, it dawned on me that perhaps it is in the small ways that we can reach out and slow down our lives long enough for contemplation and for family life. We spent a Sunday afternoon and evening a few weeks ago visiting with friends at their place. As my friend and I walked around their property (they live out of town) and talked, I thought that this was one way for our families to get off the merry-go-round. Just taking time together and enjoying “Sabbath rest” (not just a nap!) together refreshed our souls.

One of the ladies on an elist I’m on is French; their family splits their time between France and the US. One of her comments about American life (and I don’t think it’s that much different in Canada) is that people don’t take time, even when they eat together. She noticed a rush to get through a meal without taking time to sit and talk and just enjoy being together and the conversation. I know I’m guilty of wanting to jump up and get on with the next thing.

I think it is when we make a conscious effort to spend time just being that we are most able to escape the rush of modern life. Having a nap, spending time with friends or family, playing games with our kids, reading books out loud together or reading individually but all in the same room, or eating together are all ways to let go of the rush.

This quote was posted on an elist. It’s one that speaks to me.

James S. Taylor:

"In living and moving and having something of our being in a home culture, even
with its all-too-human fuss and bother, if we but smuggle in something of the
simple cargo - sturdy, comfortable furniture, fresh food, home-cooked meals,
good wine, one set of fine china for special meals, paintings and ancestral
portraits on the wall, an old upright piano, acoustic guitar, any non-electric
instrument, a time set apart to read aloud before prayers and bedtime~~if we but
make a welcome hearth for the songs of the Muses, we too will know that even on
this earth, now and again, a courage will visit among us in those comforting,
beautiful reflections of the permanent things, quite surprising yet strangely
familiar for us who are passing to and fro in these playful shadows, and we will
begin to see as Odysseus recognized, 'something very much like perfection.'"

I’ve been reading a couple of books of essays by Wendell Berry. In his criticism of the loss of agrarian life, I think he is speaking to the same problems that James Taylor is referring to. I’ll post more about Wendell Berry’s writings later but for now, my observation is that his criticisms are generally very accurate. I don’t think he has the answers, because he seems to ignore the true answers found in Christ, but he certainly has nailed some of the problems, especially associated with the church.

It’s so easy to get on the treadmill like a bunch of little mice. Even when we grumble, we still don’t hop off. This year, I’d like to look for those times of refreshing and grab hold of them with both hands. I’m not sure how it will all play out but I pray that we can keep these goals in mind as we go through our daily lives.

1 comment:

Jacqueline said...

I'm with you on slowing down life. Life has gotten much too hectic around here lately. Oh how I long for a meal where we actually sit together as a family! My family knows how important this is to me because they've heard me rant about it so many time but it's so hard to make a reality when everyone has their own schedule that rules them. I'm praying that we'll find a way to make it happen more often.