Slow Down

We move too quickly. We are always seemingly in a rush. Have you noticed? Especially with children – who can take exasperatingly long to do the few things they need to do to get out of the door.* So sometimes we are not even in a rush but we are rushing our children. Perhaps this doesn’t apply to you, or you think it doesn’t, but perhaps it does. Pay attention.

We are also, most of us, overly busy. We take on too many things, say yes to too much, say yes for our children to too much. Sometimes this is even in the name of shepherding our children in faith. I remember one year bringing my three young children (one of whom was an infant) alone to the Good Friday service in a rainstorm. It was way past everyone’s bedtime and because it was pouring the procession happened indoors so I had nowhere to hide with my sobbing baby and cranky toddlers as the procession came through our function hall. A kind gentleman came and helped us bundle into the car and home (a 40 min drive from our church) all the while marveling at how I had managed to get there in the first place. Have you had a moment like that?

We are well meaning. We want our children to be there – at the tomb of Christ – witnessing the sadness of His death so they can feel the power of His resurrection. And we also sometimes need to say no – need to slow down. We can’t do it all – especially with little kids. But even as adults.

Chronic rushing and chronic business only work us up – they shift our sympathetic nervous system into overdrive and they generally make us more irritable (less peaceful) parents, which is no good for anyone (see more on that in my post Our Peace Brings Peace). In addition, it grows anxiety – in us and in our children. And anxiety is an enemy of faith. All of us who struggle with anxious thoughts know they can sow seeds in us of disbelief, selfishness and despair.

Remember Jesus’ admonition to Martha in Luke 10:38-42:

Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.

In our lives this could look like this – focusing on doing one thing at a time (“single-tasking” author and psychologist Carla Naumburg names it) and knowing that that means that some things won’t get done. God did not design us for this level of business. Can we be real about what does and does not need to happen?

In our faith could mean that we set some non-negotiables – liturgy (save a sick day here or there or rare travel) and prayer (always possible in some way, shape or form) for ourselves and our children – a running dialogue with God to help us live through Him. Then considering some reasonable extras that may or may not get done – I appreciate Orthodox mama podcaster Hannah Vasquez‘ honesty about setting fewer, but realistic goals.

It isn’t easy. Anyone who knows me knows I want to try and do it all – homeschool, be a doctor, last minute adventure to the beach at 4pm, baking a namesday cake at 5 am. Even now I am typing this post one handed while nursing my one year old who is half-asleep. But the truth is I am not my best run ragged and neither are my kids. So I write this for myself as much as anyone. We need a radical change.

“Be still and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10

Chilean poet Pablo Neruda wrote a beautiful poem entitled “Keeping Quiet” where he urges us for our sake and the sake of the whole world to pause. I will leave you with his beautiful words here:

Keeping Quiet

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

With love in Christ,

Sasha

* For a good laugh about how it looks to get out of the house with kids enjoy this British comedian’s clip here (warning – he does swear once).

About Sasha Rose Oxnard

Sasha Rose is an Orthodox Christian and a mom. She also happens to be a family doctor, a wife, friend, daughter, amateur gardener, lover of music, dance, art, animals, nature and all things playful. Now adding blogger and writer to the list. She currently lives, works and prays in New England with her husband, four small children, dog, 2 cats and 5 chickens.

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