Just slow it down.

I have been gobbling up Kent Annan’s new book Slow Kingdom Coming this summer, especially his thoughts on paying attention and how that practice is so closely linked to slowing down.

Did you know scientific studies show that our brains pay better attention if—even just three times a day—we slow down to meditate for five minutes? Certainly, as Kent writes, spiritual disciplines—like those in Richard Foster’s work, Celebration of Discipline—help to cultivate attention. Kent provides his own anecdotal evidence based on the time he decided to intentionally practice slowing down, retreating at a Benedictine monastery and pausing throughout the day for times of silence, prayer, and chanting Scripture.

When Kent explained to the monks that he was writing about the idea of paying attention, they shared this with him: The reflective rhythm of a monk’s life allows for focus on what’s most important. This thought stayed with him and Kent says that since returning from his short stay at the monastery, he’s tried to incorporate more of the reflective lifestyle he experienced there, into his life.

But as I read about Kent’s time away at the monastery, I confess I threw down the book and exclaimed, “What a luxury! Oh, if we could all be monks! My life is so chaotic and bombarded! How can I possibly slow down?”

Can you relate?

Does your life leave you with any margin?

How can we possibly slow down?

But then God and I had a conversation and I heard him whisper, “Be still. Know that I am God.

And therein lies the rub. God is God and I am not. But why on earth does running around like a chicken with my head cut off somehow make me feel like I’ve got it all covered?

Slow Kingdom Coming was food for serious thought on the matter of considering what helps me slow down so that I can know that God is God and get a more realistic handle on what exactly He’d like me to pay attention to.

Summer is nearing its half-way point but there is still time in this season of slightly more relaxed rhythms for each one of us to do as Kent did.

Short of hitting a monastery (though that’s certainly not out of the question!) what can you do to intentionally practice slowing down and cultivate a practice that will help you renew your attention on God? Perhaps then, we’ll be better able to identify who or what He is calling us to notice and walk alongside.

Pamela Klein
Editor, On Q