Slowing Down, Being Still, and Knowing

Most of us know something about the insidious effects of speed; the relentlessly hurried pace and increasingly hassled pressure of our lives aren’t good for us.  From early in the morning until late in the evening, a lot of us sprint from one thing to another.  We run to the next meeting, hustle to meet the next deadline, and rush to grasp the next opportunity.   Along the way, we dash-in to some place to get fast food or hurry by the house to microwave something instant.  When the day finally ends, we crash for a few hours with the uneasy awareness that, before long, it will all begin again.

In his book Messy Spirituality, the late Mike Yacconelli said: “Speed is not neutral.  Fast living used to mean a life of debauchery.  Now it just means fast, but the consequences are even more serious.”

Excessive speed interferes with our ability to see, hear, and feel.  We live in an adrenaline-induced blur. We don’t notice the disappointment on other’s faces, or the loneliness in their eyes, or the sadness we hear in their voices, or the anger in their questions.  And, often, we don’t discern the gnawing hunger for love or the parched thirst for joy which underlies and drives our restlessness. 

The well-known instruction from Psalm 46 sounds to me like an invitation: “Be still and know that I am God” or, as Eugene Peterson puts it, “Step out of the traffic.  Take a long, loving look at me, your High God.”  It is in stepping out of the traffic, slowing down to the speed of life, and being still that we come to know God more deeply; it’s also a crucial part of our knowing ourselves more fully and others more lovingly.