The Daily ReTORt

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Slowing Down in an Accelerating World

I don’t know about you, but I can get worked up about things very easily. Whether it’s the cares of life, pursuit of wealth or desires for other things – I unintentionally let external craziness mangle my attempts to maintain internal calm.

So every morning, I try to read or focus on something that will help me keep my peace in place – for at least a little while.

This morning I read a passage in a book by author Philip Yancey that truly inspired me to S…L…O…W... down, like nothing else I’ve read in a long time. Here’s the excerpt, followed by the citation for the book.

I'd be curious to hear how you slow down or if you feel you can't - and why not?

“I have visited Calcutta, India, a place of poverty, death, and irremediable human problems. There, the nuns trained by Mother Teresa serve the poorest, most miserable people on the planet: half-dead bodies picked up from the streets of Calcutta. The world stands in awe at the Sisters’ dedication and the results of their ministry, but something about these nuns impresses me even more: their serenity.

If I tackled such a daunting project, I would likely be scurrying about, faxing press releases to donors, begging for more resources, gulping tranquilizers, grasping at ways to cope with my mounting desperation. Not these nuns.

Their serenity traces back to what takes place before their day’s work begins. At four o’clock in the morning, the Sisters rise, awakened by a bell and the call, “Let us bless the Lord.” They reply, “Thanks be to God.” Dressed in spotless white saris, they file into the chapel, where they sit on the floor, and pray and sing together…..

I sense no panic in the Sisters who run the Home for the Dying and Destitute in Calcutta. I see concern and compassion, but no obsession over what did not get done. In fact, early on in their work Mother Teresa instituted a rule that the Sisters take Thursday off for prayer and rest.

‘The work will always be here but if we do not rest and pray, we will not have the presence to do our work,’ she explained.

I pray that some day I will attain something like the holy simplicity these nuns embody. In the morning I ask for the grace to live for God alone, and yet when the phone rings with a message that strokes my ego, or when I open a letter from an irate reader, I find myself slipping back – no tumbling back – to a self-consciousness in which other people, or circumstances, determine my worth and my serenity.

I sense my need for transformation and keep going only because that sense is the one sure basis for potential change.”

-Yancey, Philip. Reaching for the Invisible God. Zondervan. 2002. pgs. 83-84.


  1. Excellent excerpt, classic Philip Yancey.

    That's one of his books that I have not yet read, but will, certainly.

    And, with the same certainty, I can say without hesitation that I have NOT learned the balance of trying to slow down in a 100-mph world. And admittedly at times, I seek it with tears.

    I immediately think of the old-school Michael W. Smith song, "Cry for Love", and find myself singing along with it - often welling up in "identification"...

    ((c) Michael W. Smith)

    "My life is like a racing car hurtling towards the wall
    At the speed of sound
    My time has been so finely tuned
    But I've never seen a human being so tightly wound
    At times it seems beyond belief
    I just need a bit of relief
    Like a war-weary soldier
    Marching up and over the edge
    Take my hand and pull me up cause I'm falling too fast
    Somehow I've lost my way - I'm cryin' save me

    Can you hear me...I'm calling out
    I'm crying out...a cry for love
    I can feel're touching me
    You healing cry for love"

    [deletia, but I encourage the reader to seek it out on YouTube - great music & lyrics....]


  2. Very nice, Tor.
    I had a slow down moment the other night putting our 6 year old to bed. I had sung her song she likes me to sing, we did her prayers and I got up to leave. She said, "Sing my song Mommmy, you didn't sing it!" I reminded her I had already, but the argument ensued and she began to cry.
    Immediately I was hit like a ton of bricks that no pile of laundry, no dish in the sink, no show on tv was worth NOT singing to her again.
    For how many more years, months or only days would she ask me to lay with her and sing? How blessed am I to have a little one to sing to? These slow moments in my day, MAKE my day, what am I doing??
    I apologized right away to her and held her..and sang 3 more times as she fell asleep in my very, grateful arms.

  3. @Bruce, well said and thanks for the "enhanced" comment - great lyrics from a great song!!! This is a first for the blog!

  4. @Kim, I've said before to you privately and I'm honored to post it her publically - I'M BLESSED to have you as my wife and mother of our kids!

  5. @Kim: Beautifully said, and I couldn't agree more.
    I can't count how many times (to this day) our 9-yr-old Jaimee has asked, "Play on the bed, Daddy?" How many more times will I hear that? I don't know, but I treat every one like it might be the last.

    And I NEVER want to miss that.