This July I was in Italy for three weeks with my people. I’m still living in the after-glow. We spent one week on the Ligurian coast, a week in the Dolomites, a quick trip through Venice, and a week with friends in the hills of Tuscany on a vineyard. A few days into mornings wandering markets and afternoons by the sea, my dad and I were chatting and this was the essence of our conversation: Italy is the anecdote to America. It’s the anecdote to America’s speed, urgency, commercialism, and constant hustle.
We rented an Air B and B four flights above a gelato shop close enough to the Mediterranean to be lulled asleep by the waves. We feasted on simple foods, ripe white peaches, and bread slathered with pesto, prosciutto and fresh buffalo mozzarella. At night we watched the sun set over the water while eating thin crust pizza and then walked along the coast with a cone of raspberry gelato made in house just that day. We were just steps from where I was born.
But we weren’t the only ones living SLOWly and lavishly. The Italians spent hours around the table every evening and came out for gelato after the sun set. Whole families walked the town of Sori and Bogliasco and pushed the wheelchairs of the elderly so they could get fresh air.
In contrast, today I’m tempted to crack the whip. We’ve just gotten back from fall break and my anxiety level is heightened. The oven top has four day old spaghetti sauce splatters (how did it get all the way up the side of the fridge?) and there’s a hurricane of boy’s clothing and soccer gear that hit the living room. I’m tempted to yell, to push, to demand. I’m tempted to make of our classroom an outer reflection of my inner life. I need a Creator to make order out of chaos. I need Jesus to put his hand over my mind and calm the inner hurricane. I need to SLOW down. I need to choose to get off the crazy train.
So today I choose SLOW. Today I choose to light a candle on the island whether it still has splashes of dried pumpkin bread on it or not.
I’m making a plan to:
say yes to Silence,
to Lower expectations,
to Open heart, Open hands,
and to stay aWake to God’s presence in the here and now.
I say yes to SLOW.
SLOW living is soul-full living.
SLOW is going to be my new miniseries right here on the blog because I sense we’re hungry for stillness and for permission to live with margin. When we live SLOW, we live out of fullness, not depleted from hustle. We fill out our planners for every activity. It’s now time to make a plan for rest.
Today, this is my SLOWdown plan: #10MinutesofStillness sprinkled through the day. I always set my alarm for ten minutes on my phone. It’s permission. I wave the children away and show them how much time I have left. Sometimes I just sit without any expectations, just enjoying the quiet and a cup of tea. Sometimes I listen to the emotions that are just on the surface and need my attention. Other times I follow this pattern from Dr. Daniel Siegel, a well-known neuroscientist who teaches us how to heal an anxious and battered brain: I open my senses one at a time without judging what they take in and then I invite Jesus into the present moment. You can read about these minirests here and here and here. It’s baby steps for the busy. Perhaps you may want to use the hashtag yourself. Show us what your experience is like on facebook or Instagram and then link right back here so we can find it.
Subscribe on the right to make sure you get all the SLOW goodness of the miniseries.
How do you plan for rest, dear friend? Perhaps this SLOW coming before the Word?