A dear friend who is the owner of a prosperous Lowcountry business vented to me recently about how overwhelmed he felt trying to balance the duties of maintaining a business, fulfilling expectations by volunteering in community organizations, and being available to his young adult children who always need help in one way or another.
I could feel the tension in the voice and the frustration of feeling trapped by these multiple responsibilities. We were having this conversation while driving in our respective automobiles. I pulled over to the side of the road, stopped and said, “You need a prayer right now!” I prayed that God would enable my friend to slow down. “God teach us how to slow down in life!”
My friend chimed in, “That’s exactly what I need! I’ve got to learn how to slow down.”
Is there such a prayer to God to help us to slow down?
And what kind of situation warrants such a prayer?
After we finished talking, I thought to myself that I should take my own advice.
Technology has helped us to accomplish more in life. Books we read and tapes we listen to all teach us how to be productive and efficient. So we drive and shlep our children or grandchildren to their activities, run back to work, get food for dinner, follow up on emails, watch TV and then do it again the next day.
Does our society push us to be so task oriented that we loose track of our ability to be creative or to use our imagination? Where is our creative side? Have we lost the spiritual side of ourselves? Why did we stop playing that old instrument years ago? When was the last time we went to a museum and just sat gazing at the paintings? Did we ever just try to write a story or a poem? How about just sitting in silence? Did we ever try to make a prayer of our own words to God, the Creator of the Universe?
We go to services on the Sabbath, partake in the rituals, listen to the sermons, and go to the receptions. Then, it’s on to the rest of the day’s activities. Did services help us to take a step back and see the big picture? Do we ever get a chance to step outside the flow of daily life to commune with our own heartbeat?
People practice yoga and attend mediation classes and feel enriched. Many are trying to strike that balance between riding the wave of daily living and sitting it out for a few minutes during the day to direct our thoughts to the blessings of life or to the people, pets and peace that humans search for to live fulfilling lives.
Here is a prayer from a Christian minister which is applicable to all religious denominations.
“Slow me down, Lord.”
“Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind. Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time. Give me amid the confusion of the day, the calmness of the everlasting hills. Break the tensions of my nerves and muscles with the soothing music of the singing streams that live in memory.”
“Help me to know the magical, restoring power of sleep. Teach me the art of taking minute vacations — of slowing down to send a prayer your way, of listening to the endless blissful angelic choirs in heaven, to look at nature, to read a few lines from a good book.
Slow me down, Lord. Amen.”
Here is another idea. How about taking one verse from the Bible and using it all day long. It becomes a companion wherever we go. Let’s see how much we can apply it to our lives.
I once used Genesis 1:1and 2: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
I turned in to the lot at Dolphin Head beach. I got out of my car and starred at the water. Later on, I drove to the hospital and as I began walking, I looked up toward the blue skies and marveled. After I returned home, I went outside into the sunset and felt that verse in my soul. In such moments of insight, we experience a connection to something eternal in contrast to the rush of our lives. Is it not a refreshing experience to step outside the flow of life and gaze at the world from an entirely new perspective? I am not saying we should ignore the burning issues of our conscience or the pressing issues that face our society nor our obligations to others and the world around us.
All I am saying is that humans need a sabbath day or even a sabbath moment.
I hope my friend will try to slow down just enough to feel the sensation of the humanness which brings us ever closer to the presence of God.
Isn’t that a feeling and awareness that we could all embrace?