Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
I continue my Lenten series at Patheos this week on A Different Kind of Fast. This week I explore fasting from speeding through life on the surface and embracing a mindful slowness:
Modern life seems to move at full speed and many of us can hardly catch our breath between the demands of earning a living, nurturing family and friendships, and the hundreds of small daily details like paying our bills, cleaning, grocery shopping. More and more we feel stretched thin by commitments and lament our busyness, but without a clear sense of the alternative. There is no space left to consider other options and the idea of heading off on a retreat to ponder new possibilities may be beyond our reach.
But there are opportunities for breathing spaces within our days. The monastic tradition invites us into the practice of stopping one thing before beginning another. It is the acknowledgment that in the space of transition and threshold is a sacred dimension, a holy pause full of possibility. What might it be like to allow just a ten-minute window to sit in silence between appointments? Or after finishing a phone call or checking your email to take just five long, slow, deep breaths before pushing on to the next thing?
We often think of these in-between times as wasted moments and inconveniences, rather than opportunities to return again and again, to awaken to the gifts right here, not the ones we imagine waiting for us beyond the next door. But what if we built in these thresholds between our daily activities, just for a few minutes to intentionally savor silence and breath?
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With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Photo © Christine Valters Paintner