Slow Down!

“Slow down!” I often tell my husband that; if I had a quarter for every time I said (or yelled) this at our children, we’d both be able to quit our jobs and live a life of lazy luxury. Our youngest two are boys, filled to the brim with movement and noise, and they always seem to be in a hurry. Precious are the moments when one of them is inclined to cuddle in close and simply sit with us.

I imagine that God, loving parent that he is, must feel much the same way at times. We rush through every experience and from one to the next. We are as impatient as children. Sometimes the only difference between adults and children is that we know not to run in the hallway.

Recently, God made it very clear to me the value of time simply spent in the presence of those dear to us. Two weeks ago, after a phone call from my brother at dawn, I found myself frantically booking a flight to Vermont to try to make it in time to say goodbye to my grandmother. She is our mother’s mother and one of my favorite people in the world, so it was with a heavy heart that I rushed home. It turns out that she is a very determined woman and stronger than even the doctors suspected. She rallied about a day after I arrived. Knowing that her heart remained very weak, however, I decided to stay the week and spend as much time with her as possible. Gram remained in the hospital for the entire week, and so then did I. We spent hours each day together. We talked some, but she tired easily, so mostly she dozed, and I sat with her. What a gift God gave Gram and I with his urgent cry, “Slow down!”

God is calling us all to this. So important does he believe it to be, that he made it a commandment — not a suggestion, not a hint — a commandment. “Remember the sabbath day—keep it holy. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord, your God.” (Exodus 20:8-9) The Sabbath day is for both you and for God.

It is given to us because rest is important. It offers respite from all that has happened and strengthens us for what is to come. We need to rest our bodies and our minds, to spend time in quiet places. We need to be still to feel the breath of the Holy Spirit in us. One of the great ironies of our time is that it simultaneously grows harder to set aside time for our own sabbath and easier to be constantly stimulated. The world comes at us faster and faster, as technology gets more advanced and more readily accessible. We not only work longer hours, but we have allowed the lines between “work” time and “personal” time to blur. We leave the office but take our phones, which means that many of us take the office home with us, in the form of email (I am as guilty of this as many of you. Do me a favor; if I answer your email at night or on a Saturday, call me on it!).

The sabbath is also for God, because he wants us, his beloved, to spend time with him. Like a parent who watches her children with exhaustion at the end of a long day, he revels in the moments when we stop and are content to be in his presence: to simply be loved by him. . . cherished by him.

There is exciting work happening right now to bring the gift of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration to St. Peter’s. So many of you have asked me some terrific questions about this opportunity to be with our Lord. That God has granted this blessing to our parish is a bit like a call to slow down, to rest with him. Many tell me they aren’t sure they “can do that” or express their concern that Adoration is something they’re not holy enough to participate in. My response is often an assurance that one of the wonders of spending time with Jesus in this way is that we don’t have to “do” anything. We can simply show up and be ourselves. God is content with, in fact he longs for, our presence.

We have a few weeks left until Easter. If Lent hasn’t slowed you down yet, allow it to. Find a quiet space and power down your electronics and your mind. If you haven’t experienced Adoration, maybe now is the time to try. Allow Sunday to be a day of rest. So what if whatever laundry didn’t get folded on Saturday has to wait until Monday? Who cares if you don’t check your work email as soon as you wake up Sunday morning? Practice sabbath and, as it becomes part of your life, you will thank God for it, and God will rejoice in the time you spend with him.

Lisa Amos

Pastoral Associate

 

 

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