Slowing Down

By The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster


I know a teenager at New Trier who has school from 7:10 a.m. (taking an early bird course) to 3:25 p.m. (when ninth period ends), goes home for a moment to do some homework, has dinner in the car on the way to sports practice, and gets home around 10 p.m. at which time she goes to bed and wakes up at 4 a.m. to finish her homework. She’s a morning person, clearly, but I know teenagers who are night owls do the same: homework until 1:30 or 2 a.m. and in the morning, hit the snooze button until the last minute, then rushing, exhausted, to make it to school on time. Either way, pediatricians call this crushing schedule unhealthy, diminishing creativity, hindering mental health, and impacting connections to family. New Trier is even thinking strategically about how to create a more healthy environment with regards to schedules and well being. One mom noted this week that there is an abundance of opportunity in our area—classes to take, teams to join, events to attend—each tuned toward the particular developmental milestones your child is approaching which is why she said it is so tempting to begin filling up a kid’s schedule with such abundance. Maybe as a parent your schedule is filled to the brim in a beautiful way but maybe somehow it is almost always stacked so high that it is at risk of toppling.

I wonder what might happen if we slowed down. Maybe you’ve heard of the slow food movement. Did you know there’s a slow church movement too? Talking about how our cultural understanding of time has become a commodity (something we can spend, borrow, waste, invest, budget, use up, have enough of, run out of, give away, take up, or lose), nurse and theologian John Swinton notes that the pace of modern life can feel out of sync with our basic spiritual needs. As Christians he says, we worship a 3-mile-an-hour God, a God embodied in Jesus who walked around with people, and who walks around with us. (This idea is rooted in the fact that the average human can walk about three miles in an hour hence a God who walks around with us is a 3-mile-an-hour God.) We worship a God who invites us to slow down.

On the 7th day God rested. When God’s people were enslaved in Egypt and asked to work 24/7 making bricks for the Pharaoh, God’s pursuit of freedom led them to the desert where they were invited to rest every 7th day. God calls us to slow down, to rest. It does take work to rest in some ways. If you’ve ever taken a vacation you know it takes preparation to make room to rest (sometimes the week before going on vacation is more work than a normal week yes?). But rest is worth it. Slowing down is worth it. Walking alongside this 3-mile-an hour God might take some preparation, but I think it is possible not just as individuals, but as parents and children, as families, and as a community.

Does this idea of a God who asks us to slow down resonate with you personally? I’d love to spend time (pun intended) with you talking about how we might envision this slow-paced God impacting life at Kenilworth Union Church. Does this idea of a God who asks us to slow down resonate with you as a parent? Same. Let’s talk. Have you seen this fast-paced life impacting your kids? Have you slowed down and want to share with others how you slowed your pace? I want to hear about it. Email me here.

“Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We would like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.
And yet, it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability
— and that it may take a very long time.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.”

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

May 13, 2019

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