Vacation and study leave give me the freedom to hurry less. I can read a book of poetry a couple of times, allowing the rhythm of the words to fully enter so that the images and their meaning have stunning power. “The Kingdom of Ordinary Time” by Marie Howe, continues to grip me. As the pull of pastoral work revs up, I return to the following poem for guidance …
We stop at the dry cleaner and grocery store
and the gas station and the green market and
Hurry up honey, I say hurry, hurry,
as she runs along two or three steps behind me
her blue jacket unzipped and her socks rolled down.
Where do I want her to hurry to? To her grave?
To mine? Where one day she might stand all grown?
Today, when all the errands are finally done, I say to her,
Honey I’m sorry I keep saying Hurry–
you walk ahead of me. You be the mother.
And, Hurry up, she says, over her shoulder, looking
back at me. Laughing. Hurry up now darling, she says,
hurry, hurry, taking the house keys from my hand.
What is a healthy pace that leaves ample room for savoring what’s precious? In northern Vermont, Chuck and I lingered for hours over breakfast discussing what we were reading and writing, taking in the mountain meadow, bright with flowers, enveloped in the soft summer air. The lack of pressure felt lusciously liberating. Mid-afternoon we would hike up to Rattlesnake Cliffs or a portion of the Appalachian Trail, and on our way back stop at Brookfield pond for a swim. This slowing down gets into the bones. You feel more at home in yourself and have a deeper appreciation for beauty and all it offers.
When fewer obligations press, you notice when anxiety pushes against your psyche. In Vermont, the highest speed limit is 65 and most of the paved roads have a speed limit of 40 or 50. This slow pace tried my patience. I mean, even teenagers, drove slow. Along the major highways, signs flashed that said, “Drive slow, stay alive.” Last year Vermont had only 50 deaths attributed to automobile accidents. I can’t say I got use to these slow speeds, but I do find, since returning to Kansas, that sometimes I drive slower than the limit. When I do it feels luxurious.
May you be blessed with the luxury of time to fully enjoy what you love and what loves you.