I have fallen into this week, stumbling on to my face, slamming on the brakes. The pace has slowed, yet how long it takes for my heart to still!
One week every four to six months. One week of relative stillness, of solitude, of a diary largely scrubbed of obligations. One week of living slow, of making space to listen to my heart, to my body, to my God. Reading what I choose to read because I choose to read it. Spending hours at my kitchen table journalling because I can. Going to the gym or the pool not as yet another chore to be crammed into my day but slowly, peacefully, contemplatively even.
Living ‘heartfully’, that’s what this is about.* Living with the whole of me into every moment that I can. And it’s not perfect because I ended up scheduling two unavoidable church meetings in the evenings this week and yesterday I went to college to return some marking I had done and to attend the last preach by one of our faculty. It has not been as empty so far as I would have liked.
But Monday was amazing. Getting up late, I drank strong coffee from an espresso pot on the hob, milk heated and frothed (maybe I can be a barista if the other day jobs don’t work out?!). I sat with pen and journal because to build up the writing and thinking flow it has to be paper. I prayed the Divine Hours because they are as good as anything else when your heart needs priming for prayer and you don’t know how else to begin. I read (and cried) my way through a couple of e-books on disciple-making and mission and the church. And I sorted my way through my reflections on a coaching conversation from last week, insights which have the potential to open a new perspective for me on why I am as I am and how I can live that more healthily.
Yet the best thing of all was the not-having-to. The not having to get up until I wanted, not having to move from the kitchen table reveries into something overtly productive, not having to write words for someone else to read, not having to ‘get on’ with a million and one tasks. And it has made me start to wonder.
It has made me start to wonder what it might be like to live like this all the time, particularly to have time to be able to give it to listening to God. It has made me notice this morning how easily my heart gears up even as my eyes are barely open, launching me into the day, a running commentary of what absolutely must happen and be achieved – even so that I have to tell myself at least twice in the first five minutes today that this will not be one of those days.
What would it be like to cram less into my days, not to start them feeling that I am already behind and that only a superhuman effort might be even vaguely enough to get me back on track? What would it be like to have enough space for God to speak whenever in my day rather than being confined to the few minutes when I try to calm my heart enough to be able to pray and read his Word for purposes which are not work-related? Could I ever learn to live this deliberately or is that a vain hope in 21st century London where, to borrow a phrase, ‘you snooze, you lose’?
What do you think? Can we find a way to do this which is more than a couple of weeks in a year when we jam on the brakes and slam to a halt? Is it possible to weave these rhythms into the whole of life so as to live to a different beat altogether or is that just a dream?
* I’m sure this is a made-up word – and it’s not even my made-up word – but sometimes language is insufficient as it stands. (The poets make up words all the time anyway!)