Pacing

I consistently experience a slowing when I am in nature’s midst. Two and a half years ago I was, like a toddler, squatting knees-on-hands in the Napili tidepools, Maui. Still as the black rock under me, I needed no urging to slow down. I waited and looked for a tiny lattice butterflyfish or three-spot damselfish to emerge and then re-emerge. After a long while my sons, done with the tidepools, began to say things like, “Can we go now?” But I wasn’t ready to go. For hours more I could have stayed there, peering into this rock crevice and that one to see if another new island treasure would come swimming out to surprise me. I could have remained there all day.

But this is outdoor wilderness—bubbled lava rock frozen in a wave…

lava rock wave

…or a maripose lily seen for the first time, or frosted autumn grass. You say I should slow down in the wild, where there is the wonder of things created? Easy. I respond, I receive, I readily welcome nature’s slowing with the warmest hospitality.

The tricky part is slowing in the other realm, that inner landscape. In the wild wilderness of me, there is no responsive hospitality to slowing but rather the opposite. Untamed, I do not easily slow; I want to maximize my energy output. I want the high of unreined zeal, operating at 110% with adrenaline coming out my ears.

Besides, it’s all ministry, right? All my frenetic schedule-filling is for good, helpful stuff. God’s work for me. Isn’t it?

But my mind and body can only handle so much. After the crest of the wave must come the trough. After the exhilarating Mount Carmel Showdown comes the Post-Mount-Carmel Nosedive. It’s not pretty.

How often have I felt—known—that God wanted me to slow down. Most of the time, I have ignored Him.

But God in His care of me has strategically placed slowing influences in my inner wilderness. These influences usually come in the form of people. But, unlike nature’s slowing to which I easily respond, I put up an iron resistance to the people who lovingly encourage me to slow, to operate at below 100% capacity. (So far, they have not had to pin me down with a five-point harness.)

But I am learning. Really, I am. For my journal I made a bookmark. I printed in big, filled-in letters, PACE. Then I wrote a quote by a man with The Navigators (sadly, I do not know his name):

“Increase your focus; slow your pace.”

It has become a kind of mantra for me. Little by little, I am (slowly) learning to slow my pace—even when I am not swimming with a green sea turtle or hiking by an aspen grove—but it will be a (life)long journey. It is my journey toward rest.


Related: Ready, Set . . . Rest!

(Join Bonnie who, for this month, is hosting a community of those who share about Rest!)

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5 thoughts on “Pacing

  1. It’s interesting how so many of us turn to nature when we need to slow down and rest. I like to hike a nature reserve about 40 miles west of where I live, just walka nd listen tot he quiet. Good post, Monica.

  2. Isn’t this the sad truth of who we are? PACE. I am remembering this. A very good anacronym. BTW, I started Jeanne’s book yesterday. I am loving her conversational style so far. But what I love the most is following your lines…feeling you there with me as I go through each word.

  3. Monica,
    You are speaking to me!
    “Increase your focus; slow your pace.”
    That is what I am *trying* to do, but not succeeding at very well, unfortunately. There’s always so much I want to get done, that I feel I CAN’T slow my pace or it will never happen. But God knows better. He will give me enough time to do what HE wants me to get done, and not at a frenzied pace.

    “But God in His care of me has strategically placed slowing influences in my inner wilderness.”
    I want to be more aware of these influences… And you have been one. Thank you for your friendship.

  4. The beach is my favorite place to slow down. There’s just something about the rhythm of the waves, the smell of of the salt, the expanse of the sky. I feel my blood pressure ease down. Controlling the pace away from there is much more difficult. I like the mantra—it makes a lot of sense.

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