A few weeks ago I spent a week at a writing workshop with author, Robert Benson. Between writing prompts, stories on the craft of writing, the importance of making time to write, and listening to beautiful sentences from other authors, one sentence above all has stayed with me. In describing how to become a better writer, Robert shared a series of tips and tricks. Of course, there was the usual advice to read as much as you can and surround yourself with words and books. But he also shared this advice: Do not ever hurry again; walk slowly so you don’t miss sounds; observe the world.
Never hurry anywhere.
Easier said than done, right? Yet, I was struck by his words and inspired by them. How often do I hurry through just about everything? Part of the way I’m wired is to do things fast. I like to cross items off of my to-do list. I enjoy looking back at how much I can accomplish and revel in tasks well done. With two children under 4, I need to be quick and efficient. I see those few minutes of quiet at nap time and after they’re in bed as prime opportunities to get busy as fast as I can. Yet, since hearing Robert’s words and feeling the constant hum of busyness that accompanies life in the 21st century, I’ve been wondering what it would look like to never hurry anywhere.
What does it look like to slow down and really experience the task at hand? Can I shift the way I go about my days, even in small ways, so as to see more clearly? Most importantly, can I be a model for my children to slow down and savor this life? Can I watch them and learn what it means to revel in a moment and not be concerned about time?
Never hurry anywhere.
This is why I love to walk. To move only as fast as my two feet will take me. When I walk I leave my phone at home and take only what I need: water and house keys. My hands are free to push the stroller with the kids. My eyes and ears are open to hear and see the beauty of God’s creation in front of me. My body alert to the breeze, the smell of freshly fallen leaves, and smoke from a fireplace. Walking slows me down and invites me to a non-hurried existence. A chance to breathe deeply. When I walk slowly with my children we can sit and stare at the caterpillar crossing the street and laugh as squirrels chase each other up and down trees. Never hurrying means we can say hello to our neighbors and ask them, “How are you?” And take the time to listen to their answers.
Walking is one way that I’m learning to slow down. It’s a small start, but it’s a start. And one I’m delighted to learn from every time I put one foot in front of the other. If I can keep practicing slow walking, perhaps I can learn to never hurry in other aspects of my life.
In this changing of seasons right now, take some time to go outside and walk. Slow down. Listen. Wait. Open your eyes and ears. Breathe deeply. Be inspired by what you see and experience.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at her website or follow her work on Facebook.