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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

A Necessary Slowing

jenmichel@me.com

I stand in front of the cashier yesterday, panicked momentarily when she asks, "Credit or Debit?" I can't think of my pin, rummage my mental space, and breathe when I remember I had it recorded in my phone for this moment I must have anticipated. I was a week removed from this world of transactions. With the exception of our one night over beers at Gordo's, my friends and I spent the better part of our week's writing retreat disentangled from the normal currencies with which we secure and spend our lives: time and money. There was never, as there almost perpetually is for me in my  routines of everyday life, the sense that either was scarce or running out. The days stretched on endlessly in the best sort of way. And nothing needed to be bought or sold: the exchanges we made were of conversation and prayer.

Our rhythms were unhurried and good. And if solitude does anything, it does this: it gives us the necessary distance for seeing and sensing what it is our "normal" life has become. Mine, I would soon see, was unnecessarily hurried, and I knew it, both when I stepped into new rhythms last Monday and when I re-entered life as it normally is at week's end. The week had been a gentle slowing, a "dialing down" as Dave liked to call it. Our days held only a slight necessary structure: regular meals, prayers before those meals, evenings of sharing laughter and ideas. But we were released from the intense pressure of having to get something done.

Or I should say, the invitation was ours into that freedom, were we to receive it. For some of us (eh-hem), that pressure is hardly external. It's the sound of our own voice and the pressure of our own expectations that weights on us heaviest most days. But five days is even sufficient time to do a bit of quieting of one's own internal murmuring.

It's Wednesday now, and I'm midway into life as normal. The alarm wakes me early, and the day's responsibilities, when I let them, do a heavy sitting on my chest. But I the trick is, I believe now, to bring to bear the rhythms of last week's retreat into this week of work, especially the rhythmic prayer throughout the day, which slows and forces the remembering of just exactly who it was that made this world and sustains its being, whose job it is to give us just the right amount of time for the responsibilities we'll take up today.

A verse from this morning's reading seems especially fitting:

You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.

Revelation 4:11