it’s time to slow down

For about five years Katie and I have been slowing down.

It turns out we’re part of a slow movement.

A protest in Italy over a new McDonald’s near Rome’s Spanish Steps gave us the Slow Food movement, which mostly opposes fast food. There are over 800 chapters worldwide, teaching the evils of fast food, sponsoring local events with local foods, trying to create an Ark of Taste in each region where local recipes and food sources are celebrated.

But others rushed to slow down too, so now we have:

    Slow Money, encouraging people to invest in local food sources.

    Slow Parenting, encouraging parents to plan less for their kids.

    Slow Travel, encouraging people to travel to less popular places and engage the culture more. (There is a wonderful article about this at

    Slow Art, encouraging people to enjoy and create art in more meditative ways.

    Slow Media, encouraging local, sustainable and focused media production, whatever that is.

I appreciate many of these goals, but probably have different motivations. The slow movement, for example, is being co-opted for political purposes. In the New York Times Steven Shaw, a food writer and a founder of the food Web site eGullet, says the Slow Food movement succeeded because it “mixed hedonism with a leftist political agenda.” Read much about it and it starts to sound like rants by Greenpeace and other anti-globalization efforts.

That’s too bad. Because we could all afford to slow down.

Personally I’m in favor of a slow speech movement: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20.)

But we do eat food that’s bad for us, create unrealistic expectations for our children, walk through art galleries in 3 minutes and think we’ve seen them, and travel through new cultures without making any effort to understand them—all because we are in a hurry.

I think Katie and I are learning to slow down, but we aren’t trying to save the world. (That’s being taken care of). In some sense we are trying to save our sanity and our health. I don’t think we would have done it if I had not become sick.

This changed our pace, largely because we couldn’t sustain it. And the blessings have been immeasurable. It improved our ability to see things, understand things and appreciate things. Even taste things. (We would never have learned how to enjoy a cup of tea if we hadn’t slowed down enough to make it.)

Believers have, after all, entered into a Sabbath rest: not a day of the week but a habit of life, resting in the sovereign grace of God.

Such rest doesn’t preclude work, but it’s hard on worry. It doesn’t avoid responsibility, but it restores and refreshes.

Even God took time to rest.

8 thoughts on “it’s time to slow down”

  1. I have been following the slow movement for a while, and, like you, appreciate the practical goals, but cast an skeptical eye on the political slide.

    We started “down-shifting” while overseas as missionaries, and continued once back on US soil. Slowing down can be hard work. It is great to find others that are moving along the same path, at the same intentionally slow pace, when all the world around us urges us to anxiously hurry up.

  2. It is difficult to slow down– but the rewards far out weigh the labor of it… Since Jack’s been born we’ve been far more concious of time and it’s relentless passing. The past five years have still gone by in a blink– but there have been real efforts on both of our parts to savor, enjoy, and realize the moment.

    But enough with this idea of Slow Talking. Good heavens– I’ll never manage to do that.

  3. […] Friend Wallis wrote about slowing down recently and it struck me because it’s something I’ve been conciously trying to do. Wally and his wife, Katie, have a far better grasp on it. Wally doesn’t waste time with things that don’t matter or with things that don’t contribute. Reading his take on exhaling made me even more aware of how much I’m still clutching. […]

  4. […] You can always slow down without reading this book. But in an age where children grow up too soon and everyone eats too fast, it could be a starting point for thinking differently about this problem. Or you could just reread my blogs. […]

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