Reposting another entry from a past Lenten season to remind myself (and anyone else) of the kinds of spiritual disciplines that make for a holy Lent.
"Hurry is not of the devil; hurry is the devil."—Carl Jung
“If you must be in a hurry, then let it be according to the old adage, and hasten slowly.” --St. Vincent de Paul
Hasten slowly. Here is a paradoxical spiritual discipline that I want you to consider practicing with me this Lenten season: Practice hastening slowly.
So, what do I mean by this? I mean that we should pay attention when the race of life turns into the rat race. (As Lily Tomlin said, “Even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.”)
We should pay attention to the difference between hastening to what is important, and hurrying after what is not. Between hastening to hug, to care, to forgive and to serve and hurrying around frazzled, distracted and spent. Between being busy as an outward reality and being hurried as an inner state of being. As John Ortberg has written: “Jesus was often busy but he was never hurried. Being busy is an outer condition; being hurried is a sickness of the soul.”
So, let’s consider how we add breath to our haste, how we create a rhythm for living--even when busy--that includes slow, focused, lingering moments of prayer, of attention, of love.
First, begin the day slowly…
Many of us start our days by hitting snooze. By the time we get out of bed we are already 15 minutes late. The rest of the day is nothing but a rush to catch up. I have begun thinking about my day ahead. And if it is particularly busy, starting it even more slowly. I begin most of my days a good hour before any one else in our house wakes up. This is my time to putter, to pray, and to ponder. I get up, I make myself coffee, I check my email. I then settle into my favorite chair to read, pray and doing some writing. This slow start is the key to my whole day. When I skip it, I spend the day rushing from one thing to another.
This idea of beginning the day slowly was reinforced for me when I started doing in endurance training for triathlons, marathons and century bike rides a few years ago. I soon learned that longer you are going to ride or the harder you are going to run, the slower and easier you needed to begin that ride or run. In endurance training the rule is if you want to go fast later, go slow earlier. Build a strong base, warm up, start slowly. In many ways, that is what the group of us who fill our church's Stephen's Chapel each Friday morning in Lent are doing. One day a week, we are coming together in a candlelit chapel, spending 30 minutes listening to music in prayerful contemplation. And then for 30 more minutes we practice Lectio Divina together, considering the sermon text for the following Sunday.
So, here is the first thing to practice: begin the day slowly. And let me add, even if you have to start the night before. Start slowing down as the sun goes down. Think of your day as starting at sun down the night before.
This is, as some of you know, the Jewish way of counting a day. Sabbath starts on sundown and continues until the next sundown. It is a deeply biblical way of thinking about our days. It means that the day begins with going to sleep. The day begins with resting. God is the one who works all day and then stands guard all night. Only God. Humans have to have a rhythm of rest. Indeed, when God became a human, Jesus slept just like the rest of us.
He will not let you stumble and fall;
the one who watches over you will not sleep. (NLT)
It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.