From the Rectory
Iím sure Iím not alone in thinking how on earth can it be March already? Christmas seems but a few weeks away and here we are at the start of Lent - Life rushes past us sometimes, the weeks and months speeding up faster & faster. I smile sometimes at my 11 year old who has often been heard to say ď10 minutes? Thatís like for *ever*Ē.
Slowing down is so often something that we only do when itís forced on us. For the last month or so Iíve been very much slowed down by illness. Iíve been moving slower, and living slower, and I have to tell you that I am rubbish at it, but I have been learning some really important lessons in the process.
It has been a real struggle to slow down, itís heightened my sympathy for those who are physically slowed down for much longer than I hope to be, itís made me think about what I do, and why and whether I need to. Itís made me think about the difference between need and want. Itís made me learn to be better at accepting help, better at admitting my limits, all good things to learn. It often takes something quite dramatic to make us stop in our tracks Ėwhether literally or not, and think about the speed at which weíre living.
Weather and its effects can be something that slows us down too.
Iíve been doing a lot of driving recently and thinking of the effect of outside conditions on our behaviour. Driving rain & wind makes us (in theory!) take it a bit more gently than we might have done Ė no bad thing at all.
Often slowing down comes at a cost, but itís a lesson we would all do well to heed. If we struggle on too much when weíre ill or injured, we risk damaging our health further. If we rush on our journey in adverse conditions, we might come a cropper in some way. Likewise, if we rush through life without slowing down we damage our spiritual and emotional health.
The Sabbath principle in our lives is not just about taking an hour to come to church on Sunday, but about rest and recuperation. Sabbath space can be ten minutes in the day or a whole day in the week. In fact, we need both and more.
Lent is the annual deep breath in the calendar of the church, a pause for consideration, for lung-filling life-giving breaths. Itís the chance to think and reevaluate, to consider from where does our strength, our life, our worth come?
Lent gives us an opportunity to see that it comes from God, as we see where we are damaged and injured by our rushing grasping world, and as we ask for his healing & forgiveness. It comes from him as we slow down on our road though life and take the time to breathe his breath. Lent slows us down, itís a growth time, a waiting time, a preparation for what lies ahead. So, this Lent, slow down & breathe, rather than giving up chocolate or booze, give up rushing; take a few moments each day just to stop, the world wonít end; really it wonít!
Pick a book to read, a chapter a day, and savour it. Take up a forgotten hobby; a few rows of knitting, a crossword or Sudoku puzzle can provide a moment of pause in the day. Take a moment for prayer; you donít need special words, just stillness and acknowledging Godís presence with you.
Perhaps consider joining a Lent group or reading a Lent book, make space for God to speak, to you, and to all of us as a community.
Welcome the change of pace, and let us all slow down and gather our strength to live fully in this busy world.