“We are here to abet creation And to witness it..., So that Creation need not play to an empty house.”

The Secret of Slow for Mums in a Hurry

“Do you always read to your kids like that?” she queried.

My friend was referring to my rendition of a Dr. Seuss classic delivered at tongue-twister speed from a rocking chair in the church nursery.

“Just Dr. Seuss,” I replied. “It’s funnier if you read it fast.”

She grinned and raised an eyebrow. “You do everything fast.”

She was right, and I think she actually meant it as a compliment, but she spoke more truth than she knew. Hands full and lap full, I was hard-wired for hurry in a world where I knew—I KNEW—that true success might actually mean sitting in a chair and holding a sick baby all day. It might mean reading out loud to my older kids while I held the youngest, just to maintain infrastructure and rule of law. You can polish off an entire Boxcar Children book that way, but really… ? How do you cross that off a to-do list?

Fast forward a dozen years, and I don’t spend much time in the nursery any more. These days it’s living alongside the women in my church that puts my multi-tasking, hair-on-fire heart into a position to be challenged and changed and brought along the way by others who have learned the secret of slow.

One boils water and brews a scalding mug of tea that can barely be sipped. She’s not thinking about the wonderful work she is doing with her kettle and her pungent brew. She’s not thinking of herself at all. Cupped in my chilly fingers on a rainy day, her slow tea holds me seated in her living room rocking chair, and something lifts from my shoulders with the steam from my mug. We meander through a conversation, and “What are you reading?” may actually find its steady way to, “Why are you discouraged?” and, “Why don’t we pray now?”

That is, if I can just sit long enough to let it happen.

Impatient and restless, I’ve had to learn a great deal about slowing down, opening my eyes, and paying attention. Writer and practical theologian Annie Dillard wrote in Life Magazine:

“We are here to abet creation
And to witness it,
To notice each thing, so each thing gets noticed…
So that Creation need not play to an empty house.”

“We are here to abet creation And to witness it..., So that Creation need not play to an empty house.”

When I am present to the people God brings into my life, I keep them from playing “to an empty house.” When I expect my husband, my children and my friends to intuit love from the blur that is me, then the symphony that is them echoes off the walls, unheard. Coming to a full stop to look into the wide green eyes of the son who was born the year I turned forty–who has never known me without the hurry and worry lines that run parallel between my eyebrows–I will find grace to live slow and to remember that it’s a slow walk that takes us safely through this world:

Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws,
we wait for you;
your name and renown
are the desire of our hearts, (Isaiah 26:8)
.

Remember: It’s a slow walk that takes us safely through this world.

“Walking in the way of God’s laws,” I will love: first God, and then my neighbor.
Is this not–and has it not always been–the way of redemption and wholeness?

It is in my trusting dependence on God and not in my super-efficiency that the world will stand in awe of Him.

How many times have I missed God’s way in my hurry for my own name and my own renown?

With my hair blowing back and bugs in my teeth, how much do I really even know about the desire of my own heart?

There will be time for writing and research and beating the bushes for volunteers.

There will be days for canning forty quarts of green beans and organizing sledding parties and studying for the next speaking engagement.

But today, I will pour a cup of slow tea.

This may be the greatest and the hardest thing of all: the secret of slow.

Blessings and love to you,

Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws,
we wait for you;
your name and renown
are the desire of our hearts.
(Isaiah 26:8)

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59 thoughts on “The Secret of Slow for Mums in a Hurry”

  1. It was your writing — and not your hair — that was on fire today!!!

    “…and something lifts from my shoulders like the steam from my mug,” is the best sentence I’ve read this week. The Annie Dillard quote is a long-time favorite and it recently accompanied a gift of binoculars in flight to my son in Canada!

    Thank you for depositing Isaiah 26:8 into my heart bank this morning. I accept your words of love and encouragement, friend. And I am richer for it.

    Now, if I can just get that graphic picture of your hair whipping back and crickets squirming between your teeth out of my mind!!!

    Yes, ON FIRE today, Michele… a blazing, slow fire…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What an awesome thing to write to your son to accompany a pair of binoculars! Brilliant!
      And I will help you banish the crickets image with the image of a slow day today with my 9 month old grandson, sitting before my open drawer of tiny tupperware containers and lids as he carefully examined and exclaimed over each one.
      You never fail to encourage me, Lori, so thanks for your ministry and your friendship across the miles.

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      1. What a blessing to have a full-hearted, slow-scheduled day with a huggable and loveable grandchild… And it won’t be long before he realizes what a blessing it is to have a grandma like you…

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  2. The secret of slow . . . I thank God every day for encouraging me to slow down, be still and simply enjoy His presence and the presence of those around me. Sounds like you are learning that, too, Michele! Blessings!

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  3. This is a beautiful post, Michele. The Annie Dillard quote is a powerful one to think on. I am so grateful for my granddaughters as they cause me to put things aside and to slow down. It is in the crawling, reading, and imaginary play with them that I truly find myself in the Lord. I love that you mention a slow cup of tea. It is not unusual for my slow cup of tea to get microwaved several times over the course of an afternoon before I drink it all. It is the slowest cup of tea and that makes it wonderful!

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  4. A Scripture was rolling around my thoughts. Listening to a podcast, the man was talking of that same Scripture – so I knew I had to sit with it for greater revelation. Jesus was given the message that Lazarus was sick. Jesus did not rush to respond. He waited until He heard from Father . . . I only do what My Father tells me to do.

    The sisters cried that if He had only gotten there sooner, a miracle healing could have taken place. Jesus did what Father directed and slowed His appearance. The result? The miracle was “upped” from a healing to raising the dead.

    How many times do we miss the greater because we rush to the good? Thank you, Michele, for this needed reminder. Enjoy your tea!

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  5. Ha! I had to laugh at your description of your heart as “multi-tasking, hair-on-fire”. I often see mine as the same. I loved the quote in your graphic as soon as I read it. When I noticed the author, I knew why. Annie Dillard is absolutely one of my favorite authors. This is one quote I am not familiar with. Thank you for sharing!

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  6. I don’t mind slowing down for own own rest or purposes. But when I’m on a mission and someone else wants to me stop and listen to a meandering, seemingly inconsequential tale–I’m ashamed to say I chafe. I try to remind myself that the relationship is more important than the to-do list and that listening is part of love.

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  7. Aw, Michele … I am more prone to slow than fast, I think, but I also have a tendency to get stuck. I wonder if we somehow intuitively know the pace where we work the best—and do our best, most God-honoring work—but we still need to find the courage to maintain that pace. Hm … you’ve given me much to ponder as I sit in the car waiting for my daughter to return from her driver’s ed practice drive. 🙂

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  8. OK.. this just hit me dead straight in the heart. As someone who plans every single moment of the day & have a to-do list a mile long , i’m always on the hurry to get to the next thing… even my time with God in the Bible. This is really moving to me. I’m going to make some coffee & sit still with my Bible study tomorrow morning… take it in… slowing down to HEAR HIM

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  9. ‘With my hair blowing back and bugs in my teeth’

    I needed to laugh this morning. And I smiled out loud at this image you’ve painted! I remember those days … and am grateful to be living in a slower cadence right now.

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  10. I’m another who spent so many years moving fast (It’s good exercise, isn’t it?) that my body and psyche have had a hard time embracing slow. But I don’t think God meant us to live at breakneck speed, striving to accomplish as much as possible every day. Now that we’re retired I’m in training for learning the secret of slow (!): leisurely quiet times, keeping a daily gratitude journal, savoring the moments, indulging my creative side with some simple art projects. It’s a slow process learning to be slow!

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  11. Slowing down is such an important thing in life. Important, but hardly ever done! We are all so busy with our phones and fast lives. A wonderful, relevant post today. Thanks for linking up!

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  12. The Secret of Slow. I love this, Michele. I’ve been that woman, that mama who attempted to do just one more thing on her to-do list, sometimes at the expense of her kids. Now, they’re almost 18 and 16 and they don’t want to sit on my lap and read stories, or sing silly songs, or just talk about the day. Although they do share memes with me and we laugh over them.

    I’m learning to slow down my days, to stop multi-tasking, because, really, I don’t get any more done than when I focus on a single task at a time. I’m learning to be present much more often than I used to. The Secret of Slow unlocks deep fulfillment in a heart.

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  13. This is so interesting. I have found that being in lockdown because of the coronavirus has certainly taught all my family to slow down a bit. We don’t need to be up early in the morning to rush out for work (my husband works in his pj’s!) and we rarely need to be anywhere. Something good has come out of it!

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  14. “…to intuit love from the blur that is me” – I love this phrase so much and I loved this post. I’m also hard-wired for hurry (facepalm) and I often justify it with how busy I am – with kids, work, life, etc. But as you’ve rightly pointed out here “It is in my trusting dependence on God and not in my super-efficiency that the world will stand in awe of Him”. Indeed. The secret of slow is indeed hard but 2020 made a good headway in teaching it to me (lol) and 2021 it seems is continuing with the same lesson plan. Great post Michele! x

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  15. Hi Michele. Welcome to our weekend coffee share. I too am guilty as charged in this respect, but God has allowed me to get to the age of almost 66 without any real health disaster except for feeling forced to slow down. But you know, I’m kind of liking it.
    I too have a long history of teaching in various forms of Christian Ministries as a youth and lay pastor. I don’t write about it much but do have a couple of fun stories about Christian life. I tend to the rowdy side of life, so God and I played rough with each other. One story really shows off how he kept me both scared to death and humble. If you can bear a laugh at someone else’s expense, I’ve been giving friends to do just that with this story because (now that it’s over) it’s just so funny. If interested, here’s how God used a very young girl to bring me almost literally to my knees. I hope you enjoy:
    https://garyawilsonstories.wordpress.com/suffer-not-the-children/

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  16. I am someone who has always been in a hurry…my late Mum used to say “you rush these kids too much” when I was trying to get myself ready for teaching and them to school and pre-school. But then I did not have an alternative.

    At 71 I do. Life is mostly chosen to live at my own pace. We are two long-married retirees and the lack of rushing is bringing moments of noticing and connecting I like.

    From Natalie’s Weekend Coffee Share.
    Denyse.

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  17. These are beautiful, beautiful words! I am not a mom, but I really do need to slow down, and take things one by one to fully grasp them and to be able to enjoy them! I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful day!

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  18. Such lovely words and descriptions. Lyrical, Michele. I love this sentence, “It is in my trusting dependence on God and not in my super-efficiency that the world will stand in awe of Him.” Oh yes, let that be my reminder to focus on slow relationships, not fast progress and accomplishments.

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  19. I can certainly relate to your need to slow down–at least, in my past. But even with retirement and doing things at my leisure, sometimes it takes a lot of concentration to get into a Bible reading or prayer time. And, each time, I am slightly annoyed with myself that I have to ‘work’ so hard to do it.

    It’s so great to see your link at ‘My Corner of the World’ this week!

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  20. I often reflect that what secular people called mindfulness we used to call prayer. You always make me think and I learn from your posts. Slow down Kate! #MischiefandMemories

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  21. Beautiful words, Michele! It is so important to slow down and appreciate all the special moments that we tend to miss in our perpetual hurry! Honestly, this past year has really taught me to slow down and appreciate and I couldn’t be more thankful for the lesson. I love that you quoted Annie Dillard. She is one of my favorite writers ever. She has such a magical way with her words.

    Shelbee
    http://www.shelbeeontheedge.com

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  22. Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Please stay safe and healthy. Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn

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  23. Ooh I am no good at going slow! Everything always seems a rush and I am very impatient. I will try to slow down! Thanks for linking up with #MischiefAndMemories

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  24. What an interesting post. I did have a giggle as I also read the Dr Seuss books a little too fast! Though, generally speaking I think we’ve slowed down so much since the 1st lockdown. Nothing is a race anymore, and the most pleasure and inner peace is always gained from taking time in the moment and just enjoying what’s happening, rather than worrying about what needs to be done. Thank you for joining us for #MischiefAndMemories

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  25. This post really resonates with me. I do everything too fast. I rush so much as there is always something else to be done, but I need to be more present and mindful really #MischiefandMemories

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  26. EVERYONE knows there is only one speed to read Dr Seuss. I’m taking life slowly now, brewing the tea leaves rather than throwing in a bag, however this has only been achieved on a daily basis with an empty nest and not working.
    Thank you for linking with #PoCoLo sorry I’m late with commenting will catch up before the next post later this week.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Love your writing! A beautiful post – and SO true. Countless times have I reminded myself to slow down, savor the moments, be in the present, enjoy the kids while they’re young…thanks for the encouragement to keep on in this.

    Liked by 1 person

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