When I moved from undergraduate work to graduate work, it was a rude awakening. I had written one 25 page paper in my four years of college (and little else), but I began churning out 10-15 page papers on a constant basis as soon as the work on the MFA began. The first three or four months were pressure packed as my intellectual muscles worked to ramp up to speed.
The past ten years have been a process of finding a pace in life, of slowing down, being reflective and sensible about the way time and task live together. I’m sure I’ve been lazy sometimes, but for most of my life, I’ve worked hard and often complained about not knowing how to rest. As an independent creative, the work never ends, the mind constantly churning with ideas and planning. But–thank God–in the past couple of years, rest has finally come. The release of expectations, leaving results in God’s hands, settling into a commitment to pay attention to what is here-and-now–all these postures and more have led to the discovery of Sabbath and an end to the turbo-drive list of to-dos so often driven by reactionary impulses in response to the ever-current crisis.
So now, as I step into a preaching and leading role in the life of our church community, I feel as if I’m making the same kind of move I had to make in taking on graduate work. The pace is ramping up and the to-do lists are tempting me to give them allegiance. There is much to be done, and I want to serve just as I’m called, but the calls of Sabbath, of deep shared pilgrimage (rather than frenetic “service”), and of prayerful discernment nurtured in the disciplines are strong in me, and I’m thoughtful just now how to go about the balance. There are seasons of life when it’s “all hands on deck” and everyone works as long and hard as necessary, even to exhaustion. But in the end, exhaustion destroys, and the need for long-range, sustainable patterns of service seems paramount. And it may be unwise to step out of the character forming patterns that God has used to shape me for this very moment.
The pace will quicken. It must. That’s fine. But I am committed to keeping the quiet, walking slowly, seeing the world through the eyes of silence and reflective presence. In my experience, God is not primarily a shouter, preferring to come to us on the sly, wooing rather than coercing, whispering rather than browbeating. Deep-change conversation rarely happens on the run.
The Lord is in His holy temple…