Retreat Report: Slow Down

Retreat Report: Slow Down June 16, 2011

I wrote earlier this week that I would be taking Tuesday and Wednesday as spiritual retreat days. Some of you offered suggestions for how to spend that time. Others simply wished me well. Thank you!

I spent the past two days trying to avoid my phone (but still succumbing to temptation far too often and glimpsing at the emails piling up in the inbox, the voicemail from my grandmother, the text message from an old friend) and trying to sit (and walk and talk) in God’s presence.

First, I had to get my wiggles out, as Penny’s teachers would say. It was a little chilly so I got a sweatshirt. I needed a glass of water. I remembered something I needed Peter to put in the mail. And then, finally settled, I opened my journal. I breathed in and out. I tried to pray. And I felt like doing jumping jacks or skipping rope, anything to get out of coming into a still space, a space where I had no excuse but to take a long hard look at my life.

It took a while, but eventually I got there. And God showed up.

What I mean by that is not that I had a talk with a kindly old man with a long white beard. But rather, that I remembered how it feels to be attuned with the Spirit of the Lord. I pondered passages from Scripture. I read portions of a book about the Sabbath (more on that later). I took walks and talked to God out loud and found myself at times animated, at times subdued, at times in tears.

There is much to share about those days, but one of the overriding messages that came through eternity to my temporal sphere was: SLOW DOWN.

Slow down.

Because the world does not depend upon you.

Because writing multiple blogposts a day and submitting essays and working on a proposal for another book will not prove anything to me.

Because you are beloved as you are, in spite of your achievements.

Slow down.

Because you are a mother of three young children and they need you in particular ways. Marilee, every three hours, to nurse her and gaze into her big blue eyes and kiss her and hold her tight. William, to listen when he wants to talk about playing tennis with his dad and to greet the other moms at the end-of-school party and to watch as he dances to Louis Armstrong. Penny, to snuggle on the couch and teach her how to sound out words and to tell her how proud you are when she controls her body and to receive her hugs, given with generosity and abandon.

Books and blogposts and essays will be there to be written when they are in school and at friends’ houses. Slow down.

Because I am God and you are not.

Slow down.

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