I have found, time and time again, that I am my best self when I'm slow on the inside. I am not really sure what it looks like on the outside when I am living this way, but on the inside, it feels like peace like a river. On the inside, it feels like a tree firmly rooted.
Life does not necessarily support this kind of living. The world tends to value fast and more. It seems to encourage us to rush ahead like the hare, rather than forge the slow and steady course of the tortoise. Living with a hectic, hurried pace can lead to an untethered life of dissatisfaction, distraction, and deficiency. It can leave you feeling overstretched and depleted.
I recall hearing an interview where Eugene Peterson talked about an important thing that he learned as a young pastor. When he first started out, he realized he was often on the run, rushing from one thing to the next. He had an overloaded calendar of activities and obligations but lacked a storehouse of inner reserves to deal effectively with it all. He realized his outer life had become bigger than his inner life. In a flash of insight, a question emerged: "How can I lead people into the quiet place beside still waters if I am in perpetual motion?"
He decided to change the rhythm of his life. In time, he felt slower and larger on the inside. He grew a quiet confidence and strength. It became so real that others could feel it when they were around him. I remember hearing someone say that to sit next to him was like being beside still waters.
Growing up in rural America, autumn was a time to harvest crops. We gathered potatoes from our garden and stored them in large gunny sacks in the cellar. We cut the kernels off the cob of our sweet corn and packed them in containers to freeze. My mom made apple pies in large batches. and we piled them up in the freezer as well to enjoy on a cold winter day. Fall was a time of preparation. It was a time of building up our reserves and giving thanks for what we had. All the preparations brought ease and quiet confidence knowing we would have what we needed to live well in the days to come.
Do you have what you need to live well?
Do you need to build up your reserves?
As the leaves change, the days shorten, and temperatures cool, it’s a great time to prepare ourselves for the days to come. It's a good time to get in touch with what really matters and cherish it. It's a good time to remember what we already have and give thanks. It’s a good time to slow down on the inside. It's a good time to cultivate a rhythm of life that is more still waters and less rushing rapids.
It's not easy to do. We need a power beyond us to help us - to root us, to slow and steady us. The best way I have found to do it is to turn to Jesus. He says, "Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life...learn the unforced rhythms of grace...learn to live freely and lightly."* Become slow on the inside.
Matt 11:28-30, The Message, a paraphrase of the Bible by Eugene Peterson.