The Winter from the Top of a Swing

I'm kind of tired of writing about Disney details for this week. I still have three more posts queued up and waiting for pictures and edits, but I think they can wait until next week.  Yesterday afternoon yielded an impromptu visit to the park and Mary Beth took some fun pictures with her iPod and I thought I'd just hang out here with you for awhile and think aloud about my friend Susan's last ever post and about all the wisdom there and about living a slow life. 


I've been praying hard lately about slow. Quiet. Whisper. I've been praying about creativity and asking God what He would have me do. And I don't have a crystal clear answer. Colleen called this afternoon to tell me all about how she walks at least three miles a day just to get anywhere. She told me about her kitchen with the lattice walls and the simplicity of it all. She was asking me to think for myself about how to bring mindfulness, slowness, simplicity to life in the suburbs of the the most powerful city on earth. Seems daunting. But then again, swimming against the tide is always slow isn't it? There's nothing slow about this place; I'd be swimming against the tide if I were even trying to move slowly.


The internet is fast. I feel my pulse quicken when I open the laptop. Text messaging and cell phones are fast. I watched a dear girl's furrowed brow grow smoothe when she let her battery die and took days to get around to recharging it. It is clear to me that we must be ever-vigilant lest we let technology fast forward our lives and infringe on the margins of clear, quiet space where we can just be still and know God.

Susan writes, "We live in a time when slowing down does not simply mean that we casually choose not to get caught in the speedy flow of our culture, but, increasingly, we must absolutely do battle against speed in order not to get caught up in the flow. And nowadays we have the added pressure placed on us by modern technology to be ever-available and always-distracted. But battling against this is very much worth the fight, in my opinion."


It's not just technology though. Interactions with our fully present community seem to demand expediency and efficiency. To be intentionally slow and soft requires a decided change in thought process. I find myself countering the activity of real life. This quiet is encapsulated in all the intentional choices to just be when the world asks us to hurry towards productivity. It's the wide open spaces in a day that allow us to look at the gift of a warm winter afternoon from the top of a swing.

Why create margins? Why slow down? What if we miss an opportunity? What if we don't network hard enough or fast enough or often enough? To that, I have to wonder, what if we're really missing a network that is much, much more important? Much, much more rewarding?


Susan goes on to remind us of some very poignant quotes: 

" 'All in order, sweet and lovely.'(Blake)  And I’ll quote the Bible, too: 'For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.' And why not thrown in Anne Morrow Lindbergh who said that it is only framed in space that beauty blooms? And all of this goes for our whole life; order is not just about the arrangement of our stuff! A beautiful life of margin saves space—uncluttered and unhurried—for the unexpected, for surprise, for serendipity, for spontaneity, for compassion, for instant hospitality, for relationships, and for lots of good things to happen."

The internet has blessed me in so many ways. Daily, my life is touched for the better by the people I have met online.  I am grateful forever for blogging--the medium suits me well. But I think I am a slow blogger. I cannot--will not, perhaps--keep up with the frantic pace of being everywhere online. Networking zaps me. The internet allows us to be pulled into the extroverted world without every leaving home or saying a word. I think it could be an unnatural exposure for an invtrovert.

Sometimes I am sure I would love a house like this, not to live in, just to retreat to when the noise and activity become too much. My children remind me that we have a playhouse at the edge of the backyard. And almost automatically, I think, "Hmm, I could probalby still get wi-fi there." I am a paradox.


But frantic pace and constant availability zaps me even more in real life. I asked a friend yesterday for the phone number of a mutual friend. She sent it and asked if I'd ever heard their musical answering machine message. I replied that I'd never called her. She's a very close friend. We correspond nearly daily. I love the sound of her voice and could sit for hours in real life and just listen to her talk. I love when she has time to share a converation with me. She's called me a couple times. But I've never called. Still haven't. Because in real life, it takes a huge effort for me to dial the phone. The older I get, the less I like to shatter silence with my own voice, the less I want to intrude on someone else's silence.

When I was little, people thought I was pouting or moody. I will never forget the day--I must have been around nine--when someone asked why I was so grumpy within earshot of my grandfather. He took one look at me and said, "She's not grumpy; she's pensive." It is forever inked in my memory. Understanding. He understood that I was not moody or aloof or even shy. I was just thinking. I need quiet. I need deep, face-to-face connections.If I have a conversation, I'd prefer for it to be a slow, thoughtful one. I need fresh air and sunshine. I need space to think. I don't think quickly.

And then, I also need space to do. To work with my hands. To ink out a thought. to capture an image. Wide open space to make connections to my Creator within my own soul and spirit with before I can make sense of anything else.


I put up two prayer requests this week for boys not unlike my own. Indeed, one of them played soccer with my eldest. I can't pray for them and for their families without feeling an overwhelming tug of empathy. And an overwhelming urge to hold my children. (At the same time, though, I'm compelled to bring their intentions to as many people as possible and I'm grateful this medium allows me to do that.) Life is full and rich and joyous and sad. And we need margins to make sense of it all, don't we? And life is short. I'd prefer not to waste a single moment of it.

When I was on vacation (ah, see? there's Disney again), my time online was naturally limited. I spent a few minutes a day (fewer than fifteen) uploading pictures so that our families could follow our fun on Facebook. It was just the right amount of time for that kind of connecting. And then, I spent hours and hours out of doors, holding my little one, listening carefully to the others, giving full time and undivided attention to the here and now. Despite the noise and color and crowds of where I was, it was a peaceful way to live. Certainly all of life isn't a vacation and I can't expect to come home and act as if I'm living in a resort villa, but I think I can impose upon myself some of the same expectations for limits here and wide open spaces there.


God is in the margins. 

I'm not logging off  forever. I'll likely be back tomorrow. Because I need to write. I need to take  pictures. I need to put it all together and make sense of it for myself. And for some reason, I'm am compelled to share it with you. Gosh, I'm grateful you pause with me. And I do hope that this little corner of my world can be a quiet respite for you. Because really, I'm all about the quiet.