The Pursuit of Enough: Slow, Deliberate

Last Friday afternoon, I donned my running clothes and wheezed the mile and a half to August’s school, pushing Brooksie in the double stroller. After I picked him up and we all played awhile in the nearby park, the boys climbed in, I set out the snack of goldfish and made promises of hot cocoa at home, just as the sun began to set and the wind picked up its chill. It was a fifty-something degree day in the sunshine. Now our bare hands and noses were red and raw.

The boys were cozy with a blanket on them and coats and hats. But I had a t-shirt and fleece, which was not enough. I wanted to get home. I’m a little out of shape. I’ve gone from running four times a week to running one to two and it’s showing, especially when I’m pushing two kids in a stroller up the hill. (Why is the way home always uphill???)

About three blocks from our house, we cross a pretty big road. It’s three lanes on either side and there are always cars moving fast. I’ve (thankfully) taught August to be very careful about streets. You NEVER cross the street unless you’re holding a grown-up’s hand. You ALWAYS wait for the light to flash from “red hand” to “green man.” August knows the rules. But at that light, unlike most of the lights around the city, the crosswalk signals don’t work unless you press the button. I know that crossing. I’ve walked it many, many times. I know that the signal lasts as long as the green light does for the cars beside me. I know there’s not a turn signal. I know how to look for the cars that are turning and may not see me. I feel confident.

So as I was running up to the crosswalk and I saw the light had changed to green for the cars, I paid no heed to pressing the button just for the green man to tell me I could go. I knew I could go. I just went, looking to the sides for the turning cars to see me.

Halfway through the crossing, I heard August screaming from his spot in the stroller, “No, Mommy! No! We can’t!”

When I got to the other side, I realized he was in state of terror. “I thought the cars were going to hit us,” he said. “My heart is beating so hard,” he said.

Of course, I began to assure him. “I would never cross the street unless I was sure the cars weren’t coming,” I said. “If you have a driver’s license and you’re a grown up then you can know when it’s your turn to cross even if you haven’t hit the button on the cross walk,” I said.

“But I was so scared, Mom.”

“I won’t do that again, buddy. I won’t cross the street unless I’ve hit the button, unless the green walking man is flashing in front of us. I won’t do it.” 

He leaned back in his seat and I began the last leg of my run, asking myself why I needed to blaze through that intersection anyway. I know I’ve been formed by a culture of hurry, a culture of franticness. As I finished those last three blocks toward home, I kept hearing that word in my mind: Enough, Enough.

Sometimes it feels like everything in this world is asking me: Are you fast enough? Are you fast enough to play with your kids AND keep your house tidy? Are you fast enough to serve your family and your community? Are you fast enough to be an interesting person and good friend? Can you pile enough into your life without collapsing under it, without dropping all you’re balancing all over the floor?

But what would alter if we shifted the question? What if we began asking one other if we are living slow enough? Have you been slow enough to savor? Have you been slow enough to play hard and laugh big? Have you been slow enough to stop and sit awhile? Have you been slow enough to say hello to the neighbor? Have you been slow enough to be thankful?

It’s a small resolve, this one to slow my stroller, even when the light is green. To slow myself long enough to press a button and give my son security. It’s a practice in changing what matters: People over Time. (Isn’t it crazy that we should have to remind ourselves?)

We are shaped by a world moving fast beside us. But when we look up, the clouds are floating with deliberate, careful force. Maybe we were made for that good gentle pace. Maybe we were made for long looks and real conversations.

Lent begins this Wednesday. This Lent I’m pursuing Enough. I’m going to practice a real Sabbath. A day without computers: without Twitter and Facebook, without ought-tos and check-lists. I’m also going to close my computer at 9 pm every night and practice quiet and rest my brain from the screen.

That’s all. No giving up things, no adding more prayer. It’s a simple pursuit really: this resting life. And simple is the hardest sort of pursuit we can do, isn’t it? Bringing the run to a full stop. Looking and waiting. Not because we have to, but because it’s good.

 

What about you? What are your plans this Lent? What will be your practice?

 

 

 

  • http://lmsherwin.com L.M. Sherwin

    What an encouraging and inspiring post, Micha! Lent totally snuck up on me this year. Instead of feeling that impulse to “add” to my life, I like you have felt the need to unplug and simplify. I’m a novelist, blogger, and administrator for a graphic design company, so I feel I practically live on the internet. I think I’d like to do something similar to you for Lent this year and take a real Sabbath and unplug from the social world. I’ll have to fine tune exactly what my boundaries will be, but your post has given me courage! Good luck to you!

    • michaboyett

      So grateful to hear that, L.M. What you said is so true. It takes courage to practice Sabbath. It’s an exercise in trust: that your world isn’t going to collapse if you take a day off. I’m reading a book called The Sabbath World that I’ll probably write about more later that is really challenging me but I haven’t done anything about it yet. I’m grateful for Lent forcing me into making a decision about actually practicing it.

  • http://stephaniesikorski.blogspot.com/ Stephanie Sikorski

    Everywhere I turn this is the same message I am hearing. It’s a heavenly beckoning. Thanks for sharing.

  • Carolyn

    Thanks for sharing! nice one!! channel of jesus

  • http://www.halfwaytonormal.com/ Kristin T. (@kt_writes)

    I am all too familiar with this question: “Can you pile enough into your life without collapsing under it, without dropping all you’re balancing all over the floor?” It’s so interesting that the word “enough” has a positive as well as a negative connotation. It’s a matter of punctuation—whether the word is accompanied by a question mark or an exclamation point. I need to claim the exclamation point version of “Enough!” this Lent, too. Thank you for inspiring me.

    • michaboyett

      Yay, the exclamation point version of Enough! Thanks K.

  • http://revadele.blogspot.com Adele Henderson

    You actually helped me to decide what I am going to do for Lent. I thought about giving up the technology but that would not work with my work since it imvolves computer so I am going to take your lead and have 1 technology free day a week and nothing after 9pm , including phones. This will take some real discipline on my part but I know I will be blessed by it.

    • michaboyett

      Adele, I just started my 9 pm computerless life last night and I was shocked at how tired I was when I didn’t have screen to look at! I went to bed at 9:30 and read in bed for a while. It was sort of miraculous. I wonder how many other ways I’ve trained my brain to ignore my body’s tiredness. This is going to be an interesting experiment. Looking forward to hearing how it goes for you…

  • Brenda

    For 10 years, we gave up sugar for Lent. Last year, we didn’t give up anything, but added daily family worship times. This year, I have felt pretty strongly, that we don’t need to prepare for Easter. We need to live Easter every day…not just during Lent. So, we are intentionally living a healthier life. Reading Scripture with each meal, so that I’m feeding my family’s souls as intentionally as I’m feeding their bodies. Keeping track of our daily exercise, vegetable and fruit eating, limited sugar intake and rest times. Memorizing verses that remind us of walking by the Spirit, abiding in Christ and who we really are as Children of God. I don’t plan on stopping when Easter arrives, but it is a good time to refocus on what really matters to us and who God has called our family to be.

    • michaboyett

      Thanks for your thoughts, Brenda. One of the best parts of practicing Lent over the past 10 years is that I’ve taken on new habits during that long season. And things that once felt impossible (ie not eating meat!) have become a more regular practice. (Since giving it up last Lent we still eat meat but only once or twice a week…which means we save a lot of money!) You’re right that even if you don’t give up something or add something, Lent is definitely a refocusing time. I hope your intentionally healthy pursuit is sweet and joyful.

  • http://camandlynds.tumblr.com lyndsey

    Convicting. Helpful. Thank you.

    • michaboyett

      Thanks Lyndsey.

  • http://dianatrautwein.com Diana Trautwein

    I love this shift in question, Micha! You’re onto something really, really important. What if we changed the questions? What could more counter-cultural than that???

    For Lent? Well, I’m going back to work – adding pastoring a few hours a week, leading Lenten services, offering pastoral care, staff care, worship leadership, an occasional sermon (maybe twice in 12 weeks. . . ) So, I’m giving up my more leisurely lifestyle, discovered and delighted in during these two years of retirement. (Probably something else to give up, too. . . but it feels unwelcome just now. I’m working on it.)

    • michaboyett

      Thanks Diana. Yes, I keep thinking we need a “Slow Enough!” club, where we just ask each other if we’re moving slow enough. : ) There’s nothing like taking on MORE work during Lent. Peace during this season of ministry, friend.

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  • Mark Allman

    “What if we began asking one other if we are living slow enough? Have you been slow enough to savor? Have you been slow enough to play hard and laugh big? Have you been slow enough to stop and sit awhile? Have you been slow enough to say hello to the neighbor? Have you been slow enough to be thankful?” Great words of wisdom here Micah. I tell my children often to “Relish the Journey”. I have to ask myself as I tell them that “am I”. Do I show my children that which I teach is meaningful by my actions? Do I push that button when I’ve told them how important it is to do so. Can I expect them to Relish the Journey if I have not modeled it myself?

  • http://crossingpoints.wordpress.com/ Jess

    Micha, I’ve been meaning to add a comment for days…your plans for Lent are just the same as mine – for some reason, I find myself drawn to practice something like a real Sabbath – no computers, no internet – just exist for a day. When sundown on Saturday came, I was almost sad to turn my computer back on.
    May God richly bless you this Lent.
    Jess

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