I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Jessica Curtis' reflection, The Pace of Nature .
This past summer, I up and moved my family to France. I have always wanted my children to experience a different culture and learn a second language. The decision to do it now came more from a desire for them (and myself) to experience a different pace of life.
Back in the U.S., I thought I was making conscious decisions not to overschedule our family. Saying no to events, extra clubs and commitments. But by last spring, somehow, we were participating in sports six or seven days per week and eating dinner together only one or two nights per week. Swept up in the tide, we were running at the pace of the standard American family.
Now we are living in the French countryside. We are spending more time out in nature – hiking, collecting wild berries, exploring on bikes. We still have daily routines that include school and work, but other commitments have fallen away, and we have plenty of unstructured time for slowing down.
My kids are learning to create their own fun rather than participating in so many structured activities. I am learning to slow down and be present to what is here now.
No longer running, I notice the landscape, the moth, the rustling leaves. I notice the expansive view across the countryside, and I find the expansive space on the inside.
My breath deepens. I can feel the inner terrain fleshing itself out – rocky paths, dense brush, murmuring brooks. It is all as present within me as it is without.
This is the space of being, of inhabiting. There is more room here for intention instead of impatience, for reflection instead of reaction.
Of course, busy-ness has a habit of creeping in if we let it. I notice myself, at times, prioritizing productivity rather than presence. Thankfully, the Universe has a way of pointing this out – sometimes it is a traffic jam, sometimes it is a sewing machine that refuses to cooperate. I close my eyes and take a breath.
And suddenly I become present yet again.
In my mind, I have been calling it the pace of Nature. To be present with whatever the moment is offering. Sometimes it is absolutely lovely – like a gentle breeze on a warm day. Other times, it is more uncomfortable, and I want to run away to the land of productivity. By speeding up, I can (temporarily) avoid the discomfort.
In hiding from the discomfort, however, I also lose access to the awe, to the joy, to the celebration. And so I do my best to stay.
The pace of Nature reminds me that small things matter. Our fruit trees need small bee pollinators to bear fruit. My children need to hear words of encouragement and praise at the end of the day.
The pace of Nature reminds me that change takes time. The stones at the river’s edge were not always so smooth and rounded. I cannot change my habits overnight. Letting go of coping mechanisms will take time and practice.
The pace of Nature reminds me that there is always a broader perspective. I went hiking up in the mountains last month, and I could see so far that I lost track of size and distance. It was a majestic perspective. My desire to be productive and my desire to be present are not mutually exclusive. There is room in my life for both.
So, I sit in my garden and take time to reflect. It may be that the email doesn’t get sent immediately or that the laundry doesn’t get folded until tomorrow. In this moment, I am not looking to accomplish something. I am simply looking.
And I like what I see.
Jessica Curtis, M.Ed., CPCC, ACC works with people seeking growth, clarity and balance in their lives. A certified, professional coach, Jessica helps people cultivate intention and live a spiritually-centered life. Jessica currently lives outside of Lyon, France with her family and two cats. You can learn more about Jessica and her work at: www.jscurtiscoaching.com