Friday, May 15, 2009

Hurry Sickness and the Practice of Slowing

“Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”  (Mark 6:31)

For some, solitude and silence are killer disciplines. For others, the one I'll discuss today may be even harder. It's the spiritual discipline of slowing. John Ortberg's excellent book on spiritual disciplines, "The Life You've Always Wanted" has a chapter on 'An Unhurried Life: The Practice of Slowing'. An excerpt can be read in Christianity Today - "Ruthlessly Eliminate Hurry". The disease we all face is 'Hurry Sickness'. When we have hurry sickness, we are haunted by the fear that there just are not enough hours in the day to do all we need to do. We find ourselves chafing when we have to wait. (Oh boy, do I know that feeling, especially in my professor days back in Boston!) While this in itself isn't a great attitude it gets worse when we find ourselves rushing even when there is no reason to, we snap at people due to a tension level that won't go away, and we lose our sense of gratitude.

What's the cure for hurry sickness? It doesn't just work itself out by itself, it takes training - the intentional practice of slowing. Ortberg puts it plainly - "Deliberately choose to place yourself in a position where you simply have to wait... Drive in the slow lane.. Declare a fast from honking... Force yourself to eat your food slowing... For a month at the grocery store choose the slowest/longest line. Get in it. Then let someone go ahead of you." I can see the looks on some of your faces even now. Ironically, the weirder you thing these ideas are, the more you are probably suffering from hurry sickness and the more you should slow down!

My own pillar of sanity and slowing is keeping the sabbath. Not as a must do, but as an intentional offering of the day back to God, in which time with Him, time with people comes first. This has been my practice for over twenty years, even in the most insanely busy times of my life. Though I'm sometimes not the most patient man in the world, I would be far worse off if I ignored the wisdom of God's plan for my time. The Sabbath is like an eye in the hurricane of life's demands. Take one day a week, and banish hurry. You might be amazed at the difference it makes.

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