As the rectory is buffeted by another day of gale force winds, in the wake of storms Ciara and Dennis, I am amazed at the resilience of the leaves on the beech hedge that surrounds the garden. While all other trees in the garden have been stripped of last years foliage, the bronze-coloured beech leaves cling on against the stormy blast, in a defiant show of solidarity. But take a closer look. In among the crinkled, copper leaves from last year, are the tightly-wound buds containing the new year’s growth, ready to burst into life as spring unfolds – a symbol of new life amid the old. Something to ponder as we continue our Lenten journey towards the events of Easter, with that strange mingling of the pain of Good Friday and the joy of Easter Morning.
Rose and I have lived in Devon for ten years now, and have become used to ‘Devon time’. Whenever we return to the south-east to visit family, we are always taken aback by the frantic pace of life, and the sheer numbers of people, going about their daily lives as though there were no tomorrow. It’s always a relief to get back home. But even here, it is all too easy to become preoccupied with the relentless quest for superficial things, without having the time to step back, and go deeper. Lent is a good time for stepping back.
‘Godspeed’ used to be a common expression of good wishes to someone who was about to start a journey. But what is ‘God’s speed’? The Japanese theologian, Kosuke Koyama, described God as being the ‘three mile an hour God’, suggesting that the pace of life at which we are more likely to be in tune with God is akin to our normal walking pace.
Travelling at a slower pace enables us to appreciate the detail in the world around us, and to become aware of the natural rhythms of life. Some years ago, Rose and I spent a week on a narrow boat, exploring the canals of Cheshire. The top speed of 3-4 mph forced us to slow down – not just physically, but mentally as well. And at that relaxed pace, it’s amazing how much more you see and appreciate in the world, and in the people, around you.
Of course, God’s perspective of time is very different to our own. As the apostle Peter put it;
“Do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise” (2 Peter 3: 8-9).
We may sometimes feel frustrated when God doesn’t seem to be answering our prayers as quickly as we think he should. We want him to speed up – whereas the reality is that we need to slow down.
In her book, ‘Slowing down to catch up with life’, author Linda Andersen says “God is not in a hurry – so why are we? If we are created in his image, why are we so determined to move at a pace faster than his? It’s time to step on the brakes, and begin living the unhurried life God wants for us”.
So, if you are still looking for a meaningful New Year’s resolution, why not try this: slow down – and catch up with God.
Wishing you every blessing on your journey,