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The Art of Slowing Down

Originally Appeared in : 9712-6/8/17

It took me a few days to get into summer. We got out of school, had graduation and then my children were all ready for summertime while I still had miles to go. When you have a million things going on, it seems impossible to “dive right in.”

 

But I made it. After graduation and Memorial Day, I had to go back in for our teacher work days and then I finally crossed the finish line. I declared my first official act of summer to be “staying at the pool for the afternoon after swim team,” but found that as I sat down into my appointed lawn chair, I couldn’t remember how to relax.

 

I got up to the pool, picked out our spot and sat down. I leaned back to settle and my upper body stayed in some kind of weird, contorted angle. Instead of exhaling and relaxing, I was ramrod straight.

 

Once I realized what I was doing, I forced my shoulders to lower. I made my upper back connect with the top of the chair. And ahhhhh, oh yes here we go. I remember how to do this after all. With a little effort, I started to chill out.

 

The school year is crazy, that’s all there is to it. This is life – life with a bunch of teenagers, life with six kids. However you slice it, being busy is a part of the deal.

 

And I know it’s isn’t just me. We are all busy, we all have stretches where we go, go, go to the point of a shortness of breath that can be dangerous.

 

I know this is true because I share an office with a woman who is single and has no children and she feels as busy as I do. We say yes to things and do our jobs and somehow the hours of our day fill up as we do what we need to do.

 

This isn’t a bad thing, if we keep our wits about us. I used to think I was doing something wrong when I felt busy. Now I realize it’s just the season I’m in. I have a lot of kids, we do a lot of things. They’re good things and the solution to slowing down isn’t necessarily saying “no” to all of the things.

 

But when opportunities to slow down arise, it’s always important to take advantage. It can be hard because moving slowly becomes a foreign concept. Like a body that won’t relax into a chair, we get on overdrive, unable to settle ourselves into a place of catching our breath. We forget that a dizzying pace isn’t the norm, or it shouldn’t be. Moving at the speed of light is necessary at times, but it shouldn’t be the way we always do business.

 

I’m learning that there is really something quite beautiful about summertime. I used to dread it (just a tad) because it meant open-ended days with lots of small children. It was sweet and lovely but, I’ll admit, also intimidating. It usually took me two weeks to get used to the “new normal” of summer and then things went well – and eventually great.

 

These days, with bigger kids, it’s a new kind of adjustment. It’s the feeling of looking at a week with no evening activities and wondering what in the world we will do with so much time.
And now, it’s coming back to me. We fill the hours because we slow down. The days are relaxing, our heart rate lowers. We remember what it’s like to linger around the dinner table or spend an extra hour or two on the driveway basketball court.

 

It’s a gift, this slowing down. I hope we use it wisely. May we find our way back to a calm pace, and grow in every good way God would have for us. 

 

Rachel Swenson Balducci is a freelance writer and member of Most Holy Trinity Church, Augusta. She can be reached at rsbalducci@diosav.org.

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