Saturday 3 March 2012

Slow Down: Save a Life

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

In the wake of the VIA Rail train crash in Burlington, Ontario, the authorities have discovered that the train was going four times faster than the allowed speed. The train was supposed to slow down before it switched tracks, but it never let up after the train left the station. Unfortunately, this accident claimed the lives of 3 people and many were seriously injured. This tragic incident can teach us something about our habit of living in the fast lane. If we go faster than we should, if we try to juggle more than we can, we will also derail. We will crash.

We need to slow down. We have to take care of ourselves. Lent is precisely the time to heed this invitation. In my last post I commented on Jesus’ desire that we might live life to the fullest. This does not mean we need to do more. We do not need to busy ourselves in order to achieve more for ourselves and for others. We need to take the time to be. After all, we are human beings, and not human doings. In Ignatian spirituality, we learn to live for the greater glory of God. This is captured by the Latin word magis – not Magi, as we call the wise men from the East – but the more. What more can I do for God? This translates not as ‘what else can do I do?’ but ‘how can I do it better?’

We wish that we had more time to accomplish all the things we have to do. 25-hour days or 8 days a week could help us achieve those tasks. But let us not kid ourselves. If we had more time in our hands, we would find other things to do. It is in light of this that one of the best skills we can learn is how to manage our time. Time management is not only a human technique; it is a spiritual exercise.

One of the calls of Lent is for us to fix our eyes on Christ. With this perspective we find balance. With our feet planted firmly on the ground we strive for balance between rights and responsibility, mind and heart, thinking and feeling, work and rest. Lent is the perfect to slow down and to assess how balanced are our lives. Are we getting enough rest, exercise and sleep? Are we eating a healthy diet? Are we spending enough time with the Lord or resting in the Spirit?

As human beings, we hunger not only for bread, but also for Beauty. Hence we need to make time for relationships, entertainment and community. If we become addicted to hurrying ourselves, we will not enjoy the beautiful and simple things in life. If we are always running, we will not have time for ourselves, for others and for God even if we think that our actions are done for their sake. Those living in the fast lane have no time for joy, silence, dialogue and discernment. Let us stop worshipping life in the fast lane. Let’s put away our addiction to hurrying and delight in the precious moments that enrich our lives. At the end of the day, we will find that we can also be slow to anger and abounding in love.

I would conclude with some suggestions that may be of help: take a slow walk through the neighbourhood, take little vacations during your day, enjoy moments of silence, stop multitasking, and honour the Sabbath.

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